Knicks Summer ’17: The Longest New York Minute Ever.

carmeloamareBy: Will Stevenson

“The Knicks are Tristan Thompson, and Scott Perry is Khloe Kardashian.”
… “it looks as if Scott Perry is Lane Kiffin’ing his way through the NBA management hierarchy.”

The New York Knicks have been abysmal by every stretch of the imagination for more than a decade. They went from a franchise that was neck and neck with he Chicago Bulls of the 90s, to a team that has done nothing but suffer through coaches, players and upper management since their loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the finals of the ’99 lockout season. The New York Franchise has been waiting for that one star, or stars to save them from their demise on the court, and have been searching for the right front office moves to rescue them from the incompetence of their owner, Jim Dolan. For the fanbase of the Knicks, they have been conditioned to look towards the future, and once that future arrives, they again condition themselves to look towards the future again.

So here we are, the Summer of ’17, and the Knicks have done it again. After another season of consistent disappointment and landing in the lottery, the Knicks had a golden, well golden’ish opportunity to actually get it right. Spoiler Alert: They didn’t.

  1. Get rid of Phil Jackson as soon as the season ended
  2. Trade Melo
  3. Don’t shell out money for Derrick Rose
  4. Trade up in the lottery, or draft a future point guard
  5. Do not sign any free agents that will clog up salary cap space
  6. Look for a veteran point guard on the free agent market
  7. Do not move any future first round picks
  8. Re-establish front office mindset towards building the future

Get rid of Phil Jackson:

The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but they waited until Phil had his turn in taking down the Knicks one last time. Not only did he devalue Carmelo once again, he put Kristaps Porzingis on the trade block right before the draft. He allegedly fell asleep during draft workouts, and continued to drill the notion of the Triangle as the offense for the upcoming season. The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but not before he was able to draft Ntilikina as an 18 year project instead of Dennis Smith Jr who has caught the eye of every GM during Summer League. The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but not before he was able to opt in for the final two years of his deal. Just a reminder: The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson.

Trade Melo

Melo is older, less explosive and still the focal point of the Knicks offense. Some want him to go, while others want him to stay. The Knicks brass has been trying to get rid of Melo for almost three years now, but nothing has come to fruition. You may notice Anthony has a NTC (no trade clause), given to him during his extension he signed. So, the Knicks decided to resign him, knowing he was aging, give him a NTC while knowing they wanted to get rid of him: Got it. The rumor mill has had Melo going to the Rockets for about a week now, but nobody wants Ryan Anderson. This is very similar to nobody wanting Kevin Love around draft night: See something similar here? None of these teams want an aging stretch-four that cannot guard his position, or any other positions to say the least. As of now it is Saturday, July 15th, and the Knicks have pulled back on their fervor to trade Melo. Go Knicks.

Don’t Shell Out Money For Derrick Rose

They didn’t, but they have done some Knickery in Free Agency.

Trade up in the lottery, or draft a future point guard

The Knicks could have traded up, but that would have cost them Prozingis or Hernangomez, to big men that have blossomed last season. The draft went as expected, but there were players on the board that seemed to give the Knicks a more immediate boost than Frank Ntilikina, notably Dennis Smith Jr. Look, we booed Phil when he drafted Porzingis, and even though he lucked into that decision, it has turned for the better. Maybe, just maybe this draft choice will be the same, in the future.

Do not sign any free agents that will clog up salary cap space

They almost made it, almost. We watched the Kings shell out money for veterans, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Nuggets and Clippers make sign and trades for 28 and over players, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Nets sign restricted free agents so other teams would bite, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Miami Heat resign their own free agents to multi-year deals, the Knicks held tight. Even as the Knicks did not have a President of Operations during Free Agency, nor could they wash their front office for David Griffin to bring in his own guys, the Knicks the did not do any Knickery as they did last offseason. The Knicks signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a 4yr 71 million offer sheet. A player they once drafted, then traded, then traded the guy they traded for him. That’s right, Knickery. They didn’t shell out money for Derrick Rose, they didn’t give long-term deals to JJ Reddick, Shabazz Muhammed, Gallinari, or make another Noah deal. The Knicks were doing it right for a week at the least. As usual, it did not last long. The Hawks did not match, of course, and now the Knicks are back to Knickery, again.

Look for a veteran point guard on the free agent market

They didn’t. They resigned Ron Baker.

Do not move any future first round picks

They haven’t, yet. There is still time with this possible Melo trade, or if they want to get rid of the Noah contract, or the Courtney Lee contract.

Re-establish front office mindset towards building the future

The Knicks are Tristan Thompson, and Scott Perry is Khloe Kardashian. Not only was Scott Perry part of the Sacramento Kings, he was only there for a few months. He was with the Orlando Magic before he joined the Kings. Perry goes from the Magic, a lottery team in disarray, to the Kings, a lottery team in disarray, to the Knicks, a lottery team in disarray. We already know the things that you can’t turn into a housewife, and it looks as if Scott Perry is Lane Kiffin’ing his way through the NBA management hierarchy. Now that Perry has arrived, the Melo trade talks have been put on pause, but that’s because Perry has a great track record of getting deals done. For the culture, Perry will report to Steve Mills who is in charge of the Tim Hardaway Jr. signing, so don’t anything to change.

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Welcome to LA, Losers Anonymous: Blake Griffin Done Again

Welcome to LA, Losers Anonymous.
Face it, neither of these LA teams will be great.

I was flipping between the Clippers/Jazz game and the Rockets/OKC game. Both were entertaining, and both had endings that were predictable. There was one thing that wasn’t predictable, or maybe it was: Blake Griffin getting injured. As a 32 year old man, I have gone through the injury process. I played sports during school, and intramurals after college. I didn’t play to the level of Blake Griffin or other often-injured athletes, but I got injured often: knees, ankles, feet, back, shoulders, hands, etc. I do not believe in the rhetoric that athlete are injury prone, as if they have control over what gets injured. In the case f Gus Frerotte, Amare Stoudemire and Enes Kanter it is different, but for Blake Griffin it is not. Blake Griffin is not injury prone.

For most of the high profiled players, injuries are part of the lifestyle. Tightness in the legs, pressure on the feet and knees, concussions and others are things that happen on a weekly basis. Is there anything Blake could have done to prevented his ACL tear as a rookie? He did punch the training assistant which led to a broken hand, but… well… yeh. Still, that instance doesn’t provide proof that he is injury prone. Griffin played 80 games for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but no one shouted of his injury prone status. How could one prevent their toe from becoming injured? Please explain, I’ll wait.

Truth is, Blake gets hurt just like every other player in the NBA, except Lebron James (cough cough). The problem for the Clippers is Blake Griffin is a key factor for them in the playoffs, but not really key for them pushing their way to the Finals. With Blake Griffin, the may get past the Jazz, without him, they may get past the Jazz: Either way, they lose in the second round to whomever.

Blake will be a free agent, along with Chris Paul and JJ Reddick this offseason. Will the Clippers re-sign them all? Do the Clippers really want to return to average with Paul and Jordan as their core? No. No they don’t. Will they give the 5-year max to Griffin, or will he go somewhere else?

Either way it goes, Blake Griffin is not injury prone, the Clippers will not win ever, and the Clippers are just as deplorable as the Lakers.

Welcome to LA, Losers Anonymous.

500 Days of Spring: The NBA Season Is A Long One

By Will Stevenson

The NBA Regular Season is winding down, and I for one am very excited for it to be over. Remember when Joel Embid was the talk of the league? Remember when the Warriors and Thunder were facing off and Pachulia was standing over Russ? I remember when the Bulls were playing hard and the Lakers were 2 games above .500. I didn’t even know who Nikola Jokic was or that Nurkic was a beast in the making for the Trailblazers. I thought the Blazers were bad? Remember when the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets were tied at 11-30? Since that time, the Heat are now 32-35,  and the Nets are 12-54. Remember the Warriors being a villain? That concept was pretty much a lost cause for the team.

Certain things have dulled this regular season: Injures, Back to Backs, Pace of Play and new systems. Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry, LaMarcus Aldridge are the marquee names that have, and will miss extended time this season. Not to mention players like Chandler Parsons, JR Smith, Evan Turner, George Hill, and Derrick Favors have all missed significant time with injuries. Players are resting more, which they should, and teams are keeping players as fresh as possible for the stretch run. With the draft coming and the free agent pool being dwindled by extensions this past summer, teams are tanking on purpose.

Injuries

I can never wrap my head around the concept of a player being injury-prone. It’s as if we don’t believe players should every have anything wrong with their body. Injuries are a natural part of progression, and bad luck can happen to anyone, which it does. How many players have the Pelicans released because of injury? How many times has Lance Stephenson been cut because he’s suffered various injuries. I remember watching Pierre Jackson (right before the Yogi Ferrell “explosion”) score 9 points in the first quarter for the Mavericks, then he hurt his leg and I haven’t heard from him since. He was on a 10 day contract and was released. Andre Bogut played 58 seconds before he collided with another player and broke his leg, he was released as well. Kevin Durant was knocked out by a flopping Zaza, just as Paul Gasol got hurt during shootaround. A number of players have broken a hand or finger by it getting caught in an opponents jersey. If you remember, Durant had a nasty fall in which he fell on his wrist a few games early before the knee injury. The point is injuries happen, bad luck happens, and these guys aren’t injury  prone, they are just human beings in a sport in which bodies collide with each other often. I won’t even go into these training regiments and tightness of muscles plus over-exertion. Players get injured often, and waiting until you are fully 100% is something that isn’t obtainable. Chandler Parsons is on the verge of being Brock Osweiler’d. Kyle Lowry would be replaced if Cory Joseph weren’t the embodiment of Delusions of Grandeur. Derrick Favors, in a contract year, is both months removed from being a centerpiece and months away from being paid the vet minimum and/or being replaced by Trey Lyles.

Rest

This won’t take long: Players need rest. Whatever high-horse you are on, complaining about how the fans need to see the best product are taking hypocrisy to a whole new level. Nobody complains when stars rest in Orlando, or Milwaukee, or if it isn’t a Primetime game on TNT, Espn or ABC. I get it, you care enough when you get to watch them in primetime, but not when they are playing in Minnesota on a Wednesday and being broadcasted by the local cable company. Even those that paid to go to the game, it happens. If the NBA isn’t refunding your tickets or giving back so sort of perk for those that went to the Spurs/Warriors game, then you shouldn’t be so angry at the players. You should be mad at yourself because you got played, again.

Tanking

This tanking thing is something isn’t it? The Kings are trying to tank so hard, but can’t. when they traded Cousins they were 3 games out of the last playoff spot, and banking on the Pelicans making the playoffs or missing it barely to get 2 lottery picks and be bad enough so Chicago wouldn’t get their pick which is top-10 protected (I play lots of 2k). The Kings are 6 games out of the 8th seed, but are tied with a team that gave them a 1st rd pick, but it was top 3 protected because there was no way they could end keeping that pick, the Pelicans. That’s right, Fire and Ice are melting themselves into a possible oblivion I haven’t seen  since the Lakers and Nets traded away all their picks and missed out on protection picks. The Kings could lose out on a possible top 3 pick, or the Pelicans could lose out on a top 5 selection. We all knew it would take time for the Pelicans, and they were thin, but it has really been a struggle, especially with the resurgence of the Blazers, Timberwolves and Mavericks. The bottom-playoff teams have been so bad that the teams attempting to tank are a 3 game win streak from being in the playoffs. The Lakers have been horrendous this year, and this time it’s not Kobe’s fault. The Lakers pick is top 3 protected, so if they win, they lose the pick to the 76ers. Their development this year stopped around December once the injuries hit and the losses piled up. Mozgov and Deng have be inept and are now DNP-CD (Did not play – coaches decision), isn’t that something for 33 million a season for 4 years (Thanks Jim). The Orlando Magic traded away Oladipo, Sabonis, Ibaka, and still are as putrid as before. The Suns aren’t tanking, but their play does it for them, and the Nets are tanking but don’t have a 1st round pick (a high one) for 3 total years. Teams are hoping the 2017 class is a deep one and leads to potential stardom, but these teams should realize that they themselves have played a major role in harming their own on-court success.

Despite these issues in the league, I am interested in watching playoff basketball. With the pace of play substantially going up league-wide, I’m interested to see if the high pace will translate to the playoff style. Will the Rockets continue to shoot 40 three pointers a game? Will a team like the Wizards be able to put up 106 ppg? Will coaches be able to swallow their defensive and carefulness instincts, knowing that a team could “grit and grind” them at any point. Though the pace of play is up with transition and three pointers attempted, we saw how that changed when the Cavs fug in on defense and the Warriors didn’t connect on those threes. Will teams turn back into the Jazz on offense, and will the Grizzlies continue their team record pace for relapse into the Grindhouse? Just something to check up on.