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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What Adding Serge Ibaka Means for the Raptors

By Leo Silbert

The Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors have agreed to a deal that sends Serge Ibaka to the Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first round pick.  The Magic didn’t believe that they had a good shot at retaining Ibaka this summer and Ibaka had concerns over how he was being used in Orlando so it makes sense for both of those parties to part ways.  Now the Magic bring in a young wing player in Terrence Ross which should move Aaron Gordon to power forward full-time so the Magic may have done very well here, but how much does this improve the Raptors chances of challenging the Cavaliers, Celtics and Wizards for the East?

Serge Ibaka

First thing that this will look to improve is the Raptors defense.  Ibaka for most of his career has been one of the best shot blockers in the league, as he is the active leader in blocks per game.  In the blocks category, the Raptors rank as an average team, but now with the addition of Ibaka, they can start him and give fewer minutes to Patrick Patterson, which if you take their current per game averages, would push the Raptors up to second in the league, only trailing the Warriors.  An increase of 1.5 blocks per game on average could have great effects on a team’s defense and give more freedom to the wing players to play aggressive defense since they know they’ll have a shot blocking presence down low to pick up the slack if their man gets into the paint.  The Raptors would also increase their rank in field goal percentage against since Ibaka is one of the 5 best rim protectors in the league.

Next, he would help to increase the team rebounding.  Ibaka will never be a 10 rebound per game guy, and that isn’t what the Raptors brought him over to do since they already have Jonas Valanciunas to be their top rebound man.  Ibaka would bring good skills as a secondary rebounding big though which the Raptors need as they rank 23rd in the league in total rebounds.  His rebounding ability will help the Raptors posses the ball more often and put it in the hands of their 5th ranked scoring offense more often.

ibaka-dunk

Speaking of the Raptors’ offense, losing Ross as their 6th man hurts, but DeMarre Carroll puts up similar numbers across the board so he may get more minutes per game as well as increased minutes for Cory Joseph and Norman Powell in 3 guard lineups where either the Raptors keep both Valanciunas and Ibaka in for defense, or have Ibaka and Patterson in for a pace oriented and spread out offensive juggernaut.  Ibaka is also an excellent shooter for 3 so any concerns of decreased floor space with Patterson on the bench would be without merit.

So now how much is this likely to help the Raptors improve their chances this season?  Well since the Raptors have been in a funk recently and this is the kind of move that can greatly change how a team plays game in and game out, he could potentially bring them back all the way to the 2 or 3 seed, maybe even the 1 if the Cavaliers go through another rough patch.

The Orlando Magic Need to Sell Now

By Leo Silbert

The Magic haven’t been a good basketball team since Dwight Howard demanded to get out-of-town.  Since then, they have had plenty of chances to pick players who could be the centerpiece of the team, but instead they have mostly picked up role players.  Currently they have a young corps of players who can be a big part of their success.  Aaron Gordon is a guy who I believe is made to be a power forward in this league, the way the league is moving towards small ball.  He is hyper athletic and has shown ability to defend anywhere on the court, even if he does need to add a little bit of weight to really bang in the interior consistently.  Elfrid Payton has great court vision and can be one of the best traditional point guards in the league both on offense and on defense.  Evan Fournier has great size for a shooting guard and has shown the ability to score, but I think he’d be best served as the #2 guy for an offense.  Nikola Vucevic is a center who is good on offense and at rebounding.  Vucevic isn’t an ideal player to have since he isn’t much of a rim protector but for now he is pretty much stuck where he is until the 2018-2019 season when he is in his contract year.  He isn’t a piece that is absolutely necessary to replace before they have their finishing piece in first.

Now, I mentioned the finishing piece that the Magic need, and that is an alpha male scorer at the small forward position.  This draft has a top-level small forward in Josh Johnson who would fit great onto the team, but the team only has the 11th worst record in the league at the moment so they need to be worse before they can get better.  Now, they have a few valuable trade assets in their contract years on their team right now who I think they should trade before the trade deadline to make sure #1 they get some kind of value instead of nothing when they leave in free agency.  Those two assets are Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green.  These are two guys that can help raise a playoff team’s hopes for one year, and not have to be worried about the next year unless the team wants to resign them (which is something they’d only know for sure if they already had him).

For Ibaka, I think the perfect destination for him that can have the cap space would be the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Bucks have a truly exciting young duo in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.  They also have a big man in the middle who can rebound and is decent on offense in the post, but who struggles protecting the rim.  They also have another enticing piece in Khris Middleton who makes this team have a scary trio that can make noise if they make the playoffs.  Now, what they are missing is a defensive anchor on defense and since they have Monroe they would need someone who spreads the floor more so Giannis and Middleton can still drive easily.  Ibaka is a defensive minded big who has a decent mid-range game.  This scenario would also give the Bucks easily the biggest starting 5 in the NBA ], with Middleton and Parker being the shortest at 6’8 each.  I feel like this is the type of move that would give Milwaukee the best shot to make noise in the playoffs and possibly upset a higher seed in the east.  Now, what would Orlando get out of this deal?  I would like to see them try to get Thon Maker.  Ibaka is what Maker can be with proper development.  Maker would be the eventual replacement for Vucevic so that fills their need of having to find his replacement in the future.  I’d also see them getting a 1st round pick this year out of the deal with a lottery protection on it in case the Bucks lose Giannis and Parker to injury.  Now according to ESPN’s trade machine, this wouldn’t work so each team would have to add a piece.  The Magic can throw in Jodie Meeks to be a backup guard for the Bucks and the Bucks could choose from either Miles Plumlee or John Henson given their salaries and this trade would even out.  If I was Orlando I’d try to get Henson since he is only on a 1 year deal and Plumlee would stick them with 3 bigs all on deals for the next three years with none of their contracts easy to move.

For Green, finding just the right spot is a bit more difficult.  He isn’t the same player he was on the Celtics, but he can still be a valuable asset to a team that needs help at the 3 or the 4.  The team would also need cap space to take Green’s $15 million cap hit.  One team that fits those criteria is the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder right now have Russell Westbrook who is dominating the league like a point guard hasn’t done since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-1962 season.  Victor Oladipo is a solid 2 guard and a solid #2 scoring option as well as an above average defender.  They also have Steven Adams who is a decent center who excels on defense.  The combination of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter sharing the floor though kills the team’s spacing so adding in an athletic forward who can spread the floor some and not be lost on defense would probably help their team in the hopes of raising their spot in the Western Conference standings.  Now, they bring back Jeff Green for a 2nd stint in OKC, and they have a much better chance of rising up to potentially the 5th or even 4th seeds with what they have already and Green.  Now, Green is struggling this year but I feel like the Magic aren’t using him correctly and are trying to force too many things to happen at once so I think a move to OKC where Green won’t be asked to do too much would be very beneficial.  Now for the pieces OKC would have to give up.  Anthony Morrow is an expiring contract so he’s a good piece to deal and Alex Abrines is a spot-up shooter who is making enough money to make this trade work and he can be a good role player down the line once the Magic finally fix their problems, so the frugal Thunder ownership may want a future first round pick swap to give themselves some backup in case Green isn’t as good of a fit as I think.  For the pick swap I think 2019 would be the ideal for both teams.  Westbrook will be in the middle of his contract extension with an increasing salary cap so the team can possibly sign a 2nd star in free agency by then to give the team a good shot at the title.  By then the Magic should be approaching playoff readiness if they are able to pick up Josh Johnson or Jayson Tatum if Johnson is gone when they pick, this year so they’ll be still be a lottery team, but they won’t be a real threat to pick first overall.

So that is what I think the Magic should do.  They need to set themselves up to fail now so they can have a shot at a great talent now that will fit their needs and then they’ll be able to start sorting out the mess they created by signing Bismack Biyambo to a massive contract this past offseason.