Knicks Morning News (2015.05.31)

  • [New York Times] Pelicans Hire Warriors Assistant Alvin Gentry as Coach (Sun, 31 May 2015 05:16:07 GMT)

    The New Orleans Pelicans have decided that 60-year-old NBA coaching veteran Alvin Gentry is the best candidate to mold a young roster featuring 22-year-old budding superstar Anthony Davis.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Ex-N.B.A. Player Is Accused of Fraud (Sun, 31 May 2015 04:18:15 GMT)

    Chris Gatling, a former N.B.A. star, was arrested on allegations he oversaw an online scheme using credit cards of people from across the country.

  • Knicks Morning News (2015.05.30)

  • [New York Times] Magic Hire Veteran Coach (Sat, 30 May 2015 04:01:23 GMT)

    The Orlando Magic hired Scott Skiles, a 13-year N.B.A. coach, as their next coach.

  • [New York Times] Cavaliers 114, Hawks 111, Cleveland leads series, 3-0: LeBron James Lifts Cleveland to Win With Triple-Double (Sat, 30 May 2015 01:30:19 GMT)

    James missed his first 10 shots but had 37 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists, 3 steals and the final two baskets.

  • What If… With the 4th Pick The Knicks Draft: Mario Hezonja

    With the order of the draft being settled, the writers of KnickerBlogger thought we’d go over the possible outcomes. But since we were whipping out the ol’ Crystal Ball, we decided to go a little past June & see what fate possibly has to offer…

    2015 Draft Order
    1 MIN Karl-Anthony Towns
    2 LAL Emmanual Mudiay
    3 PHI D’Angelo Russell
    4 NYK Mario Hezonja

    Whatif-Hezonja

    What happened on Draft Day 2015

    Leading up to the draft the buzz that the Lakers were looking hard at picking a swing man, rather than a big, was getting louder and louder. On draft day, all the rumors proved true when they passed on the offensively dominate big, Okafor, and selected the young guard Mudiay, who they felt was oozing with potential at a more critical position. Philly stayed the course selecting Russell, the guard they had valued the highest, passing once again on the absurdly skilled big man from Duke. The Knicks were on the clock, and Knicks fans everywhere began celebrating, hardly believing the good fortunes of having perhaps the best player in the draft fall to them at #4, something unthinkable for such a cursed franchise. Then the universe quickly corrected itself, however. With the 4th Pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, the Knicks select: Mario Hezonja, Gaurd, Croatia.

    What will be written on draft day in 2018

    In his first NBA season Mario spent most of his time playing guard, where he was abused by smaller, faster players. When playing SF, he was abused by larger, stronger players posting him up. It didn’t help that he seemed completely disinterested at times on the defensive end. Where Mario did make an impact was through his offense. He showed glimpses of being a versatile scorer, using his height to shoot over smaller players, and quickness to blow by big men. By the 2017-18 season, Mario was picking up the scoring slack from a disintegrating Carmelo Anthony, who could only give around 25 effective minutes a game that season. Still, Mario was a polarizing figure to the fan base. His defenders pointed to the fact that he led the team in scoring, at 24 points per game, while the statistical analysis nerds pointed out that he had below average scoring efficiency and added nothing else to the box score, other than an atrocious turnover rate. Before the 2018 draft, new GM Allan Houston vowed to build an experienced, veteran team around Mario Hezonja. This of course meant trading the 2018 draft pick (8th overall) for Brook Lopez, who Team President Isiah Thomas called the best center in the game. Despite this declaration, it was Jahlil Okafor who many considered the best center in the game, as in his third year he has emerged as the most dominate low post player since Shaq was in his prime.

    Note: I apologize for this worst case scenario. At least there is a very small possibility of it happening. Just remember, whatever happens draft day, it could be worse!

    Knicks Morning News (2015.05.29)

  • [New York Times] Warriors’ Thompson Better After Blow to Head: Father (Fri, 29 May 2015 02:41:45 GMT)

    Golden State guard Klay Thompson was recovering well from a blow to the head that caused headaches and vomiting and should be ready for the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, his father has said.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Warriors’ Klay Thompson Is Recovering (Fri, 29 May 2015 02:33:49 GMT)

    The Golden State Warriors guard was feeling better and was on track to return for the N.B.A. finals next week, his father said.

  • [New York Times] Roundup: After a Close Call, the Warriors Head to Houston Up, 2-0 (Fri, 29 May 2015 01:13:09 GMT)

    “You put a lot of hard work into your craft,” said Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who scored 34 points in Game 1 and 33 in Game 2.

  • [New York Times] Thompson’s Father Says Son ‘on Track’ to Return for Finals (Fri, 29 May 2015 01:05:52 GMT)

    Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is feeling better and on track to return for the NBA Finals next week after taking a knee to his head from Trevor Ariza that caused “concussion-like symptoms.”

  • [New York Post] Jim Barnett shares his perspective on ‘magical’ Warriors season (Fri, 29 May 2015 00:39:25 -0400)

    One time Knicks guard Jim Barnett, now a Warriors analyst, talks NBA Finals, LeBron James' greatness and Phil Jackson's challenge with The Post's Justin Terranova. Barnett will be doing pregames…

  • [New York Post] 5 reasons why this NBA Finals matchup makes for must-see TV (Fri, 29 May 2015 00:05:10 -0400)

    It took several weeks to get here — and in the case of the Eastern Conference playoffs, several long weeks — but we finally have the matchup everyone hoped to…

  • What If… With the 4th Pick The Knicks Draft: Kristaps Porzingis

    With the order of the draft being settled, the writers of KnickerBlogger thought we’d go over the possible outcomes. But since we were whipping out the ol’ Crystal Ball, we decided to go a little past June & see what fate possibly has to offer…

    In a stunning out of the box management move sure to show everyone how forward thinking he is, Phil Jackson will have Kristaps Porzingis pull double duty as a member of the Knicks AND the Knicks' ball boy.
    In a stunning out of the box management move sure to show everyone how forward thinking he is, Phil Jackson will have Kristaps Porzingis pull double duty as a player for the Knicks as well as the Knicks’ ball boy.

    2015 Draft Order
    1 MIN Karl-Anthony Towns
    2 LAL Jahlil Okafor
    3 PHI D’Angelo Russell
    4 NYK Kristaps Porzingis

    What happened on Draft Day 2015

    Steve Mills, who knows as much about NBA tampering rules as he does about how to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace, already has a deal in place with Greg Monroe before the draft (hence him telling everyone that who the Knicks sign will determine who they draft, while that typically goes in the reverse order), thereby giving Phil Jackson the big butt in the middle that he so greatly desired. With his Andrew Bynum in place in the middle, Jackson decided to try to get his Pau Gasol, well, at least a tall European guy to play the 4. Cue thousands of Knicks fans quickly learning how to spell Porzingis’ name before ultimately deciding to just call him by his nickname, the Zinger.

    What will be written on draft day in 2018

    As we look into the future, I wish to first look into the past. On June 15, 2014, Kristaps Porzingis withdrew from the 2014 NBA Draft. He was predicted to go roughly at #20 (the Oklahoma City Thunder allegedly promised him that they would take him with the #21 pick, likely with the goal in mind of stashing him overseas for a year or two).

    Clearly, Porzingis and his agent, Andy Miller, realized that if Porzingis stayed in Europe and gained strength and muscle, he would go much higher in the 2015 NBA Draft.

    Here is Porzingis in 2014…

    kristaps2014

    Here he is in 2015 (both images courtesy of DraftExpress’ profiles on him)…

    kristaps2015

    Here they are side-by-side…

    kristaps2014-15

    He didn’t add any noticeable muscle or size!! And if you don’t want to go by just those photos, please, by all means, compare videos from him in 2014 to videos of him now. He’s added a little bit of muscle, but just a teensy bit.

    So think about that, the one thing he stayed in Europe to do, add muscle and strength, and he didn’t do it!! Do you think that’s because he just said, “Eh, who cares? It doesn’t matter” (which, by the way, would be a problem in and of itself) or do you think the guy just isn’t someone who is going to add much size and muscle? I think it looks increasingly likely that it is the latter. When the guy weighs in at the same bogus 220 pounds (no way is this guy 220) two years in a row,, that is not a good sign.

    Therefore, I envision a 2018 where Porzingis is routinely pushed around on the low post. He also didn’t attack the rim or pass the ball in Europe, so if that keeps up, he’s essentially a 7 foot 1 spot-up shooter, or in other words, he’s Ryan Anderson with a good first step…that he never uses because he doesn’t attack the basket (only 2.2 free throws per 40 minutes, because he shied away from contact, which makes sense because he’s a twig). However, as a spot-up shooter, I bet he gets the ball enough times to average a decent amount of pointz per game (also, do note that while he shot 46% from three in EuroCup, he also shot 32% during the Spanish League in twice as many games, so are we even positive that the guy is a great shooter?), so he might very well be the first Knick draft pick in two decades to get an extension from the Knicks. Got to lock down that scoring.

    And the Knick fans of 2018 will say, “Okay, but what if Porzingis puts on some weight next year? He’s only 22! There’s still time!” as they look to add a good player with their second-round pick after having dealt their 2018 First Rounder for Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline in 2017 (MASAI!!!).

    (NOTE: If you want an optimistic projection, just imagine that he does gain a lot of muscle and therefore changes his entire game, becoming someone who will go right at guys and not back down to other players. Then he’ll be a star. Think a bigger version of Gallo, that’s what he’d be and that’d be pretty darn impressive).

    Knicks Morning News (2015.05.28)

  • [New York Times] Curry Wants What LeBron Has in Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals (Thu, 28 May 2015 06:56:58 GMT)

    Stephen Curry and LeBron James, this season’s brightest stars taking basketball’s biggest stage.

  • [New York Times] Warriors Into Finals After 40 Year Wait (Thu, 28 May 2015 04:50:17 GMT)

    The Golden State Warriors shook off their bumps and bruises and advanced to their first NBA Finals in 40 years after defeating the Houston Rockets 104-90 to clinch their Western Conference Finals series on Wednesday.

  • [New York Times] Warriors 104, Rockets 90, Western Conference finals: Stephen Curry Bounces Back, and the Warriors Head to the Finals (Thu, 28 May 2015 04:42:46 GMT)

    Curry scored 26 points, Harrison Barnes had 24, and Klay Thompson added 20 as Golden State advanced to its first N.B.A. title series in 40 years by winning Game 5 against Houston.

  • [New York Times] Warriors Eliminate Rockets, End 40-Year NBA Finals Drought (Thu, 28 May 2015 04:12:48 GMT)

    After a generation of wishing and waiting, the Golden State Warriors have finally arrived on basketball’s biggest stage again.

  • [New York Times] Howard Could Face Suspension if Rockets Force Game 6 (Thu, 28 May 2015 03:13:24 GMT)

    Dwight Howard could miss Houston’s next playoff game after picking up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs.

  • [New York Times] Curry ‘Ready to Go’ for Game 5 After Frightening Fall (Thu, 28 May 2015 00:12:51 GMT)

    Golden State star Stephen Curry said he had no lingering effects from his frightening fall before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday night.

  • [New York Post] Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll may be fits for Jackson’s Knicks (Thu, 28 May 2015 04:24:35 -0400)

    Some Knicks fans were less interested in the future of two of the winners and more interested in the future of two of the losers Tuesday night after the Cavaliers…

  • Jackson, the Checketts Doctrine, and the 2015 Draft

    “With the 26th pick in the 1994 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Charlie Ward from Florida State University.”

    These words, spoken on June 29th, 1994 by then-commissioner David Stern, represent the end of an epoch in New York, and the beginning of a new science of roster-building. It wasn’t because the Knicks were drafting a franchise player, or even their point guard of the future. It was because from that day forward a “win now” policy was put in place, favoring older, established, and famous players in favor of youth, upside, and the unknown. Ward, drafted over 20 years ago, is the last Knick draftee to stay in New York past his rookie contract. Everybody to be drafted after him (Iman Shumpert the most recent addition to the list) has either been traded for more established assets, or simply let go for nothing.

    How common is it for an NBA team to continually unload it’s young players before their rookie contacts are up? It isn’t common at all. In fact, of the 30 teams in the league, only three others currently lack a draftee on at least their second contract with the team (and of the other three teams, none go even close to as far back as 1995 to re-invest in their own “homegrown” talent). So it is an unprecedented strategy that the Knicks have married themselves to over the past twenty years. And one that history views as curious, to say the least. Every team that has experienced any long-term success in the NBA has been built at least partially via the draft. Yet the Knicks have opted to eschew building through youth completely. And it may not be much of a coincidence that over the last twenty years they own one of the worst combined records in the league.

    What happened back in the mid 1990s, and why does the strategy continue today?

    Despite the fact that the Knicks, as an organization, had experienced much success in the draft, selecting the rookie of the year in both 1985 and 1988 (Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson) and a host of other long-tenured contributors (Trent Tucker, Gerald Wilkins, Kenny Walker, Greg Anthony, and Hubert Davis), a decision was made by then President of Basketball Operations Dave Checketts to enter “win now” mode. In 1997 they traded all three of their first-rounders from the year before for the marginally talented and highly-paid veterans Chris Mills and Chris Dudley. The moves were good enough to help keep the team out of the lottery for the next 4 years and even make an improbable run to the NBA finals. But then an interesting thing happened: the Knicks stopped being competitive, yet continued to shed their picks and recent draftees as if the Checkett’s Doctrine was etched in the Foundation Stone upon which Madison Square Garden was built.

    For twenty years and counting, the Knicks have been trading picks like each draft would be the last. And the picks they’ve been forced to keep (by the Stepian Rule, which forbids teams from trading their 1st round pick two consecutive years) they’ve hastily found a way to move for the players they prefer: namely any older, more famous, and even more highly paid player that is available to them.

    Now, in 2015, the Knicks are staring into the face of a long and painful rebuild. They have their pick, which, coming off of the team’s worst regular season performance in franchise history (17-65), is the #4 pick in the draft. It will be their first time in the lottery in six years, when they drafted Jordan Hill 8th (only to trade him eight months later for the extremely-famous-and-even-more-extremely-oversized contract of Tracy McGrady). But will they keep the pick, or will this pick simply be leveraged into a more established player to help the team get back to respectability sooner rather than later?

    Possibilities

    Jackson, thus far, has been both strangely candid and miserably aloof in his vision for the Knicks since taking the reigns from Layden/Thomas/Walsh/Grunwald/Mills. His biggest move as president was the re-signing of 30 year-old Carmelo Anthony to a five-year,$124,000,000. After seeing his star player lose half the season to injury, Jackson’s window to make that investment pay off is closing. With all the top prospects in the draft this year all being teenagers, it is hard to see how any of them come into the NBA and make an immediate impact. Traditionally, it takes several years for even the greatest of prospects to develop their NBA bodies and minds. Given the team’s history, and its current needs, it seems all but destined that whomever the Knicks select in this draft will only be passing through on their way to their next stop.

    However, Phil Jackson, in his inaugural address last year, promised to bring about a “culture change”. This vague allusion could simply mean installing his trademark Triangle Offense and nothing more. Or, more significantly, it could mean something far more dramatic: namely the long over-due dismantling of the Checketts Doctrine, which has dictated Knicks culture for fifteen years too long now.

    Because of the Stephan rule, Jackson cannot trade the pick until at least one second after it’s made (this, courtesy of Jackson’s predecessor trading the team’s 2016 pick for the somewhat-famous-yet-still-ridiculously-overpaid former #1 pick Andrea Bargnani). This, it seems, is a good thing, as even the most cynical fans will get to see Jackson’s selection, at the very least, wear a Knicks hat and smile in pictures with Commissioner Silver before being traded away.

    But even if Jackson does decide to trade the player, it wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing for the long-term health of the organization.

    The problem with a long-term rebuild is that the Knicks don’t own their 1st round pick in next year’s draft. (They traded it not once but twice, the first time in a swap of picks with Denver for Carmelo Anthony back in 2011, and the second time outright to Toronto for the aforementioned Andrea Bargnani). So it’s hard to sell fans, and even more importantly owner James Dolan, on a lengthy rebuild when Denver and Toronto will be reaping the benefits of any Knick suckage in 2015-16. But Jackson does have an option with the #4 pick that can help mitigate the issue: trade it for a lower 2015 pick and a 2016 first round pick.

    The talent in this draft is considered to be deep, but outside of the two centers at the top of the draft, the rest of the lottery remains opaque. Picks 3-14 lack a consensus as to where the most value can be had, indicating that the teams may not be gaining or losing much if the picks were to be reshuffled. So trading down to acquire a future 1st round pick may be the best way to maximize the payoff from their historically bad 2014-15 season.

    Unfortunately, trading down for a package of futures is easier said than done, as it takes a trade partner that a) covets a player in the top four of this year’s draft, and b) has picks of value to trade. As of now, there are twelve teams that have already traded their 2016 first round pick or are precluded from trading it by the Stephan rule (Brooklyn, Cleveland, Dallas, Golden State, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Heat, Thunder, Blazers, and Kings). Of the remaining 17 teams, six potentially own more than one 2016 first rounder:

    Phoenix owns their own pick and Cleveland’s (protected 1-10).

    Chicago owns their own pick and Sacramento’s (protected 1-10).

    Toronto owns their own pick and the lesser of the Knicks and Nuggets’.

    Philadelphia owns their own pick and the Lakers’ (1-3), the Heat (1-10), and the Thunder’s (1-15).

    Boston owns their own pick and the Net’s (unprotected), the Mavericks’ (1-7), and the Timberwolves’ (1-12), as well as 5 2016 second round picks.

    Denver owns their own pick as well as the Blazers’ (protected 1-14), Grizzlies’ (6-14 only), and the right to swap picks with the Knicks.

    It is not unreasonable to think that the Celtics could be interested in repackaging their litany of picks to move up to #4 this year. They own the #16 and #33 in this years draft, and could throw in either their own pick or the unprotected Nets’ pick in 2016 along with a 2nd rounder or two. Such a trade stands to mutually benefit both teams; however, there is also the inherent risk of trading a future star to a division rival that tends to stymie these kind of transactions.

    Philadelphia, with their multitude of future draft assets, is also a potential partner, but already owns the #3 pick in this year’s draft and is, like Boston, a division rival.

    That leaves the intriguing prospect of dealing with the Nuggets once again, in an effort to undo some of the damage that has been lingering since 2011. Denver owns the #7 pick, but they are facing losing their current point guard (Ty Lawson), who is rumored to have mutual interest in playing for the Mavericks next year. The best PG prospects in this draft are likely to be taken with the #3 and #4 pick respectively, so it is possible that they may have significant interest in moving up from #7 (where DraftXpress has them selecting Duke swingman Justise Winslow) up to #4. And the cost of doing business with NY would, of course, include giving the Knicks the right to reverse swap picks, effectively taking back their own 2016 pick (while sending Denver’s pick to Toronto).

    It will be interesting to see what ultimately becomes of the Knicks’ 2015 draft pick. If it is traded in the minutes, hours, days, or weeks after the draft for Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Al Jefferson, or Kobe Bryant, it will be clear that the Checketts Doctrine remains in effect and there will be no true culture change taking place during the Phil Jackson administration. However, if Jackson is serious about reversing course, he has more options than simply taking the best Triangle player, or the most complementary player to Carmelo Anthony, with the #4 pick. The rebuild in New York stands to be a lengthy one, but there may be opportunities this June to lay a foundation for the next decade of Knick basketball. Will Phil Jackson take the opportunity should they arise, or will the policies of presidents past continue to plague the Knicks’ future?