Knicks by a Rose from the Grave

So here we are. The Knicks have just made a trade that has been brutally lambasted by nearly every knowledgeable Knicks fan I’ve spoken with, based on a lot of relevant statistical information I see no reason to repeat here. I want to talk about this in terms of practicality and overall scope as an effort in team-building, or perhaps even better, team-trashing.

At the end of last season, basically all of us could agree on several things about this team. First, we hated that we didn’t have a first round draft pick because of yet another awful trade for a bad player, which made tanking an irrelevant strategy for the year. We pieced together a team with several free agents, two of whom we unanimously regarded as the laughingstock of NBA backcourts; Aaron Afflalo and Jose Calderon. I don’t recall a single person hoping we could retain their services, and to my relief, we haven’t. The Knicks convinced Afflalo to opt out by giving him no reason to believe he had a place on the team in the latter half of the season, the first great thing to happen this offseason. We also found a team willing to absord Calderon’s nearly $8 million deal this season, giving the Knicks a chance to scrap the awful backcourt experiment that was signed last summer in an attempt to field a team competitive enough to compete for a 7-8 spot in the playoffs last year. Without a draft pick, it made sense in a vacuum to sign those veteran players to short contracts to field a competitive team, but it became clear at about the halfway point of the season it was a wasted effort.

We also agreed that Porzingis should probably play more minutes at the 5 in an increasingly smaller NBA, although with his smaller frame it wouldn’t be wise to subject him to the type of punishment that can require against some of the bigger frontcourts in the league. But are big frontcourts really a thing anymore? How valuable is a double-double center without range in today’s space-and-pace NBA? The best “true” bigs in the NBA have the ability to make shots in the 15-20 foot range, or even further, such as Marc Gasol, Lamarcus Aldridge, Damarcus Cousins, Serge Ibaka and Hassan Whiteside. Traditional bigs have been disappearing faster than the bee population, in part because it is becoming harder and harder to find a place for them on the court as teams employ more lineups with all five players capable of spreading out around the three-point line, causing switching nightmares in the pick-and-roll and rendering their rebounding/paint-protecting abilities all-but irrelevant as they were extended out to the top of the key in and endless succession of P&Rs.

Anyone who would listen to me knows that I rode HARD for the Golden State model last year. And make no mistake, I was wrong that they could not be beaten, and I’ll be the first to admit that. There were two, perhaps three teams (we’ll never know if San Antonio could have matched up with them, but I’m gonna say because Duncan couldn’t have stayed on the floor that they would have been a less difficult matchup for Golden State than OKC was in hindsight) that could employ the type of spacing lineups with a big that had the athleticism and ability to switch any screen to match the spacing ferocity that Golden State forces on a team. The value of a traditional big, therefore, has gone down. Not to say that teams don’t still need one on a night-to-night basis, but the value of a player like Robin Lopez is not what it was even two years ago. Make no mistake—RoLo is an awesome guy to have in any locker room, he is a productive player, and he’s dependable (the man played 82 games in 3 of the last 4 years). He was on a good contract and what he did do, he did well. The thing is, what he does is fast becoming an irrelevant skillset.

I’m not going to try and convince you that Rose is about to have some sort of career renaissance and become a productive point guard after everything you’ve already read that suggests otherwise. Rose is the definition of damaged goods and even the most optimistic projections have him as a league-average point guard in a league full of talent at that position. But the Knicks were not going to upgrade that position in this offseason in any meaningful way—would you want to sign Conley to a 4-year max contract, a player now 30 years old with his own injury issues? I stand on some rocky ground here to suggest that this trade was a good thing for the Knicks, but only in relation to what they do around it. If the team signs Dwight Howard (which I have no reason to believe they will, but I’ll entertain the theoretical) then this is yet another awful short-sighted move that the entire fanbase would be correct to be pissed off about. But if this is part of a two or three year plan to tear down the roster, then I think it’s a great start.

Could we have gotten a first-round pick for Lopez? Not likely. And certainly not without taking back long-term $$ from a team seeking its own cap relief to scrape their way out of a bad contract after they find out they made their own short-sighted move in free agency. But we did find a way to get out of a contract that would have lasted 3 more years and provided the team with no real value at a position that frankly, Porzingis should be starting at. Kristaps provides rim protection and is not fast enough to keep up with the new 4 position in this league. In the playoffs, Durant and LeBron played the 4. You want Kristaps trying to guard that? Are you kidding? Kristaps has a few years to develop into a better defender, but at the 5, he could at least hide by going under screens and hanging back, remaining close to the paint where he would be most effective in a defensive set, rather than being stretched out to the corner 3 as he so often was last season. I see no way to not play Kristaps at the 5 going forward, which leads me to believe that this team shouldn’t be looking to sign a traditional center this offseason anyways. Everyone keeps pointing to how we need to replace the center, but to my mind, we already have. Melo and Kristaps should play the 4 and 5 respectively now, and that’s just the only way to play basketball going forward in my mind.

I’m aware there will be a thousand arguments about the validity of that thought alone, but if the Knicks really are transitioning to a more fully-realized small-ball approach, then I think this was a good way to get cap relief, blow up the unbelievably terrible backcourt we trotted out last year, and pivot Kristaps to his more-natural position at the 5. What we need now is a 3 and a 2, not a 5 and a 1. And those positions are a lot easier to fill nowadays.

I say this trade is impossible to grade without what comes after, so maybe I’m writing this too soon. We should wait until after free agency’s dust has settled to really think this through, but in today’s world of instant reaction and much-too-soon evaluation, that is just not possible. Remember, Golden State was done when they were down 3-1 against OKC. I heard nobody suggest otherwise. OKC had figured them out, Stephen Adams was the perfect 5 to wreak havoc on their system, and then somehow, OKC lost. We repeated the exact same platitudes after Cleveland went down 3-1 in the Finals, citing all the historical data and how Cleveland couldn’t keep Kevin Love on the floor and the matchups were simply too much to overcome, but we all know what happened next (and a lot of what happened is Golden State just didn’t make shots. If they were nearly that cold against OKC, they would have lost that series in 5 or 6. Let it be forever remembered that a team that suddenly begins missing all of it’s wide-open threes when that is the reason their engine runs in the first place may be beatable). In the NBA, and in sports and the world in general, all that matters is what happened today. Tomorrow, a new narrative can replace it just as easily. The only true way to evaluate something is in a broader scope of perception, but we seldom allow ourselves to do that because of the urgency to give our opinions as soon as something happens. It can be likened to how we think of our relationships with people—we can have weeks and months and years of positive experiences, but one major slight, deception or betrayal can cause an incredible momentary emotional reaction and that one day can change everything about how we feel.

Let’s not be victims of the moment here. Let’s not assume that Derrick Rose is coming to save the Knicks, because he’s not. Anybody arguing this trade as an immediate boon to the team is wrong. It is only in the larger scope of what is done in relation to it that this trade can be viewed as a success or failure. In life, you may take a job that initially seems like a life-changing positive event, and find in a year that you’re in fact miserable to go there every day even though the pay is better and it seemed like a pragmatic and smart move at the time. And let’s not kid ourselves, the Knicks were not competing for a title next year, even if by some miracle they signed Conley and Whiteside AND Batum. They still wouldn’t be good enough, and that’s just a fact. This was always a two-year rebuild at the very least, and to my mind, the team is in a better position to do this than they were two days ago. Nothing we did was going to make us better than Cleveland next year, and that’s okay. In no world should the Knicks be attempting to have a championship contender this year, or even next year, because the NBA already has enough contenders that we couldn’t possibly pass in that timeframe. And that’s okay, because this type of move can either demonstrate that the front office does in fact realize this and knows the roster needs to be torn down so as to wait for next summer’s much more robust free agent class and arm ourselves with another lottery pick or two to do a true rebuild, or… gulp… it will show yet again the unforgivable short-sightedness of this team we love to hate and that they’ve sacrificed future assets in favor of an unrealistic chase for a title they have no hope to compete for.

Finally, I’ve read that the front office thinks they could attract a marquee name like Kevin Durant with this move, and I think that’s smoke and mirrors. Or at least it better be. There’s no way in hell Durant is coming to New York anyways, he’s signing the 1-and-1 deal with OKC and that’s all there is to it. And seriously? He would choose the Knicks over Golden State or Miami? If he leaves (and he’s not leaving, stop falling for the click-bait people) we are too far down the list for Derrick fucking Rose to change his thought process. I’m wrong all the time, and if I’m wrong here and Durant decides to come save the Knicks, I’ll eat crow every day until I die of whatever disease you would likely contract from making crows the centerpiece of your diet. But I’ll go out on a 40-foot wide limb and say that Durant is not going anywhere this summer because it would be a stupid decision on his part and he is comfortable where he is. If it attracts anybody, let it be Horford or Batum, someone worthy of the first step in the rebuild that is also a realistic target and will make the team better. Horford could be the 4 that allows Melo to play the 3, and if we just flipped Lopez for a more expensive upgrade in Horford and got rid of the worst backcourt in the NBA in the process without giving up any assets, this was a great decision.

We will either feel a lot better or a lot worse about this trade in two weeks. but right now, I’m going to be an optimist and give the team the benefit of the doubt (that admittedly they’ve done very little to earn). If we sign a marquee free agent at the 2 or 3 and otherwise just stuff the roster with short deals on players with upside, I’ll be thrilled. It will give us a chance to move Carmelo for the future 1st rounder we covet along with other assets, and to reshape the roster for 2018-2019, the year this team should be looking at. It sucks to be thinking of the next two seasons as simply a bridge to cross, but haven’t we all been clamoring for a complete teardown for years now so we can actually build a functioning team going forward? Think of it like going to college; those first two years you take all of your general education classes, none of which serve as anything more but a way to get accepted into your major program and finally get some real work done. Sure, it blows, but you get a chance to warm up to the process and collect some memories and habits to succeed in the future.

If that’s indeed what they are doing, I am all for this deal and can see the sense behind it. If not, though… I don’t even want to think about it. This franchise and its fanbase deserves better, and maybe, just MAYBE, they’re going to get it. We deserve a teardown, not a prop-up. You don’t fix a house by remodeling the kitchen and updating the furniture, you tear the shitty thing down and start from the foundation.

Let the arguing commence.

2015-16 Recap: Knicks 87, Pacers 92

Sorry I’m pulling a “better late than never” recap on you guys today. I won’t bore you with the details of why I couldn’t do this yesterday, but rest assured that family obligations can indeed set fire to an entire day’s worth of time. I barely even got to watch the game as it was played, and just finally got the chance to watch the replay.

The Knicks played sans Melo, so my optimism for kicking the Pacers out of the playoffs was already compromised at tip-off. But I’ve gotta say, I’m proud of how the team competed, particularly in coming back from a 9-point deficit to tie the game in the 4th quarter. They showed some late-season grit that they frankly have no incentive to have beyond competitive pride, and even in this dwindling season, it made the game a lot more entertaining to watch. It was the kind of game nobody could really blame you for bailing on at halftime; the Knicks had been out scored 36-18 in the 2nd quarter and were down 13 at the half. But fans who stuck around were rewarded with a close finish, albeit with the same result as many of the close games this season.

It occurred to me while watching this that the difference in making the playoffs and floundering not to another season with 50+ losses is this team’s late game execution. Having only one player who can consistently create his own shot is a serious detriment to any 4th quarter offense, but compounded with the lack of penetration from the guards, it resulted in some really glaring spacing issues that haunted the Knicks throughout the year. I’m physically assaulting a deceased horse here, but even a marginal improvement in guard play and the development of Kristaps coupled with the signing of a consistent scoring option would make a world of difference.

Since this is already late I’ll keep it briefer than I usually do, plus I’m writing on my phone and without a keyboard I am useless. Seriously, I want a slide-out keyboard again, the touchscreen is not a good gadget for long-form writing. We only have four games left, and Jerian Grant should get the chance to start them all and give us a look at what he’s got to offer the team going forward. He is perhaps the only player the Knicks have on a cheap rookie contract that has some upside. Cleanthony Early is an interesting prospect returning from his injury, and I’d like to see him get a good run to finish the year as well. I liked him a lot coming out of Wichita State, simply as a gamer who could put the ball in the bucket in big moments. The Knicks desperately need more of that, because relying on Carmelo has proven to be a pretty poor strategy for closing out games lately, at least when he isn’t spelled by another threat. Yes, Kristaps has done his part in some games, but he hasn’t really exhibited much in the way of the clutch gene in his rookie year. Granted, he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to come up big in late game situations; he was often left on the bench by Fisher at the end of games, and he hasn’t quite been given the freedom to go one-on-one with just a few minutes left. We’re not likely to see Zingis Khan again this year, no matter what he says about wanting to play again before the season ends, but if he does, I would like to see him have the offense run through him at the end of a game.

Alright, I’m outta things to say. Take it easy today, everyone, and enjoy the best month in sports. We’ve already had a buzzer beater to win the NCAA championship and baseball’s opening day, The Master’s starts on Thursday and the NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs and the NFL Draft also happens before the month ends.

Man, I love this time of year.

2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs Pacers

The Knicks have as many games left as most people not named Jason Pierre-Paul have fingers on one hand. That’s both a bit sad and somewhat reassuring at the same time, seeing as the tailspin that started in January has been difficult to watch for a fanbase used to losing in recent years that was given a glimmer of hope by the Knicks’ .500 record at the midpoint of the season. All that’s left to be accomplished with this season now is to play potential spoiler to the Pacers, a team that we have every reason to despise. It was only three years ago that a young Pacers team upset Carmelo’s best Knicks team in Round 2 of the playoffs, and most of us remember those years in the 90s when Reggie Miller was the basketball equivalent of a hemorrhoid on the Knicks’ ass. Hell, Spike Lee helped make a 30 for 30 on his quasi-rivalry against Miller and the Pacers highlighting some of those dramatic playoff battles from the Ewing days.

The Pacers are 2 games ahead of the 9th place Bulls with 6 games left to play for each team, and the Knicks play Indiana twice in their last five games, starting with tonight’s game at MSG. I realize this franchise doesn’t exactly have a loving relationship with Chicago either, but it was a lot easier to accept losing to Jordan’s Bulls than it was to lose to Miller’s Pacers back in the day. This is a golden opportunity to end the Pacers’ season and have them searching for tee times in late April instead of gameplanning for the Cavs or Raptors.

I realize there’s not much to be excited about right now. Porzingis may sit the rest of the year out, and probably should. The Knicks do not have a first round draft pick to be optimistic about, so even praying for ping pong balls is out the window. It took the veterans themselves asking Rambis to play some of the young guys for Jerian Grant to get a start and some meaningful minutes, which we talked about ad nauseum in the comments of the game thread for the game at Dallas a few nights back (still didn’t get Get Cic or Die Tryin’ out of the starting lineup, which is so frustrating it’s become comical at this point). And most of the guys on this roster figure to be gone after this year or the next, so it’s tough to even try and become attached to what exists on the roster outside of the starting frontcourt. But hey, Cleanthony Early got some run against Brooklyn, and it was definitely awesome to see the kid come back from that extremely weird straight-out-of-a-gangster-movie robbery and gunshot to the knee. When I think back to that bizarre moment in the season, I remember thinking his career could be in jeopardy, so it’s been pretty great to see him be able to play before the season ends.

But we can get excited about potentially knocking the Pacers out of the playoffs. Indiana has been in a bit of a tailspin lately, losing games to Orlando and Brooklyn in their last five. They also play Cleveland and Toronto before playing New York again, so if we can beat them twice (ideally) or get a split, there’s a very real possibility that the Pacers end up joining the Knicks on the outside of the playoff picture in two weeks. I think that’s plenty of reason to be amped up for tonight’s game, because if there’s one thing I like more than being happy, it’s seeing people I don’t like being unhappy. And the Pacers are one giant amorphous blob of people I don’t like (although it’s tough not to be a fan of Paul George, I’ve got to admit).

So, in short, LET’S GO KNICKS! MAKE THE PACERS SHARE IN OUR COLLECTIVE MISERY!

2015-16 Recap: Knicks 89, Mavericks 91

Well, I think it’s safe to say that we are all shocked and left to ponder how the Knicks uncharacteristically spent the 4th quarter collectively forgetting how to execute an NBA offense. The Knicks, a model of 4th-quarter consistency in this league, finally succumbed to the laws of mathematics and played poorly to finish the ga—okay, that’s enough blatant sarcasm, even for me. The Knicks tripped and fell down the metaphorical flight of stairs that is the 4th quarter for what seems like the 76th time this season. I swear, they might as well switch the broadcast to Benny Hill music running on a loop instead of Mike and Clyde’s commentary. It would be more fitting. Here is a dog that cannot understand why the Knicks insist on hurting themselves.

sad chihuahua

I may as well admit my own eff-up since I’m laughing at the Knicks face-planting from my spot on the floor nursing my own aching mug. I didn’t do enough pregame research to know Kristaps wouldn’t play and so I wrote my pregame article with a tilt towards paying attention to him and Dirk’s matchup. What was right, however, was the saddest part of talking about that potential matchup, which totally makes sense looking at the morose nature of this game. The fact that there are a dwindling few of these games left between the two players was made more evident by Porzingis’ absence, because that is one more opportunity he had to face Dirk down the drain. Maybe the two of them were able to get dinner or something? I just hope Kristaps can forge a relationship with him, because I think Dirk would be a great mentor for the kid, just to stay humble and keep grinding and working. This isn’t going to happen overnight, or in a year or two, but in five years we could be looking at one of the best players in the league if all goes well. We need as much good karma in that corner as we can get, and Dirk has more good vibes than Bill Walton dancing to a Grateful Dead song at a charity auction.

Now, we come to the scene of the crime. I’ve collected a disturbing amount of evidence against the Knicks in their attempted murder of the game of basketball. What follows is the play-by-play of the 4th quarter for the Knicks, featuring all 9 turnovers, 6-18 from the field and Aaron Afflalo taking a wet dump all over any chance the Knicks had of closing this game. But first, a distracting picture of something boring to give you time to get any children out of the room before viewing the latest atrocity committed against basketball by the Knicks in the 4th quarter of a close game. Seriously, no child should have to see this. It’s better they just not know.

antiquing

11:47 Langston Galloway misses 3-point shot
11:27 Langston Galloway offensive foul
10:59 Carmelo Anthony makes 2-point shot
10:23 Carmelo Anthony offensive foul
10:03 Robin Lopez makes 2-point shot
9:33 Robin Lopez misses 2-point shot
9:18 Langston Galloway double-dribble turnover
9:00 Aaron Afflalo misses 3-point shot
8:40 Aaron Afflalo misses 2-point shot
8:00 Carmelo Anthony makes 2-point shot
7:22 Carmelo Anthony misses 3-point shot
6:54 Sasha Vujacic loses ball out of bounds
6:22 Sasha Vujacic misses 2-point shot
5:54 Aaron Afflalo steps out of bounds
5:24 Aaron Afflalo makes lay-up (!!!)
4:43 Robin Lopez bad pass (stolen by Mavericks)
4:15 Langston Galloway misses 2-point shot
3:53 Derrick Williams 2-2 FT
3:15 Aaron Afflalo traveling
2:42 Carmelo Anthony misses 2-point shot
2:40 Robin Lopez put-back for 2 points
2:05 Aaron Afflalo misses 3-point shot
1:00 Carmelo Anthony converts and-1 for 3 points
0:26 Carmelo Anthony misses 2-point shot
0:18 Carmelo Anthony misses 3-point shot
0:09 Carmelo Anthony loses ball out of bounds
0:00 Langston Galloway misses 3-point shot

Looking at that chart is basically the equivalent of watching a toddler determined to try to tie their own shoes, so it’s excruciating by any standard. I would follow it up with a picture of Kurt Rambis looking confused with a bit of spittle on his chin sparkling with HD-given clarity, but I’m not that cruel.

The bright side of all of this is that it was pretty plain to see Aaron Afflalo giving about as much effort as those 30 guys at construction sites watching the one guy operate the crane. He’s not exactly in open rebellion, but he’s putting on a world-class pouting clinic any girl entering middle school should take notes on. If this all means we escape his contract and get a redo at the 2-guard next year and some cap relief, I’ll consider the last month of the season a success no matter how many games they set fire to.

I really don’t have much else to say right now. The season is mercifully coming to a close, though, and we can begin to legitimately look at how this roster and coaching staff might be shaped going into next year. Everyone has an opinion on what should be done (or just as importantly, not done), but I’d like to hear any thoughts on that from you guys since talking about the actual games isn’t very interesting at this point. The most we can hope for is to play playoff spoiler to a team or two down the stretch, but the Knicks just butt-fumbled a damn good opportunity to do that to the Mavericks, who are hanging by a thread themselves.

Anyways, Melo did go 11-22 for 31 points. So credit where it’s due. But we all know those last two shots were awful and so did he—the smile on his face told the story pretty plainly. Melo is smart enough not to take this too seriously, because all he needs to do is finish the season healthy and look forward to the Olympics, where I hope he plays 14-18 minutes a game max. Light jogging is all I want to see; ever since Paul George, that shit scares the hell outta me.

Until next time, Knicks fans. Only 6 more to go. Cherish it.

Because do you hear that drumming in the deep?

That boom, doom, boom?

That’s baseball season. An ancient evil none can withstand.

balrog

It is coming.

2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Mavericks

Hello again, Knickerblogger family! It’s so damn good to see you!

I’ve returned from my annual two weeks of NCAA Tournament fanaticism, and it feels good to be paying attention to NBA basketball again. If you watch about 40 games of college basketball over the course of 10 days, it becomes rather clear how superior NBA players are. In fact, by the end of the Elite 8 games on Sunday, I was honestly relieved that my (why is it so important to me every year when I basically ignore college basketball until the tournament starts?) bracket was eliminated from my pool. There is thousands of dollars on the line, and I won a few years ago which has caused me to be irrationally attached to the tournament every year since in hopes of recreating that feeling (and monetary award). I had Kansas, Oklahoma, Virginia and UNC in the Final Four, which looked damn good on Saturday afternoon, but the dream is finally dead. So I can wake up and watch REAL basketball players.

Tonight’s game features my two favorite teams in a match of “our season ended around Groundhog Day” versus “our season isn’t quite over but it’s aggressively circling the drain.” The Mavericks lost Chandler Parsons for the year, so even if they squeak into the playoffs, they will likely be swept by Golden State or San Antonio in the first round. I’m not sure I even want to watch that, but I’ll always take playoff basketball over no playoff basketball, even if I know we’re destined to be eviscerated by one the NBA’s two best teams. The Knicks are just going through the motions of closing out the season, although Rambis is certainly trying to maintain the illusion of being a coach.

His recent decision to bench Afflalo is certainly one that I have no argument with, and I find it hard to believe many readers take issue with it either, but starting Get Cic or Die Tryin’ in his place feels like a legitimate troll job on Knicks fans. Oh, you guys want us to bench the ineffective veterans and give the young guys time since the season is over? Well, we’re gonna trot out Sasha “is my hair okay?” Vujacic and Kevin “I look just like a basketball player” Seraphin so we can leave Jerian and Langston to sharpen their Cards Against Humanity skills on the bench. I honestly have to give Rambis a golf clap here for finding a way to give 20+ minutes a night to a person who literally couldn’t play a meaningful minute for any competitive team in the league.

But I do agree with benching Afflalo. He has been terrible and his contract is poison; he can’t come back next year, and the horrible truth is that he holds the power over whether or not he absorbs another $8 million in cap space next season because the contract has a player option, not a team option. The strategy here, if I’m correctly reading between the lines (although by looking at Rambis’ and Afflalo’s quotes, they’re not exactly being covert about this), is to convince Afflalo that he won’t get a chance to start for this team going forward, and if he wants another crack at one last decent contract before retirement, he needs to go elsewhere to show the league what he can do next year. I honestly think it’s a solid move—kind of like when a job starts doing everything they can to make someone quit because they don’t want to fire them.

Sure, it’s a bit on the cruel side, but the Knicks can’t fire the guy, so the only way to rid themselves of him is to make him quit. I know he came to New York with purpose and wanted to be here, but it seems like a split is all but guaranteed after this season. It would be a bummer if Afflalo exercises his player option and sticks around if he sees the market doesn’t have anything for an aging 2-guard who shoots contested fadeaways and contributes almost nothing to the team outside of the stray good scoring performance. Damn… I really hope he leaves. But will he? Where else is he gonna get $8 million? If he thinks he can take a smaller contract in hopes of getting a big one after next year, he will leave, but he’s going to be 32 at that point and I’m not sure any team is going to be giving a 3 or 4 year contract to whatever version of him exists at that point.

Tonight is all about watching the torch being passed. This is the second meeting between Dirk and Kristaps, and the first one lived up to the hype and then some. I expect Dirk to have another good performance against the kid who idolized him, and I expect Kristaps to reach deep to impress the best European basketball player of all time. It should be a lot of fun, and it’s something we should all cherish, because it won’t happen many more times. I’m convinced Dirk will play two more seasons to make it a round 20 years in the league, and I honestly wouldn’t blame him for spending his last year on a one-year contract playing on a team that can win a title if Dallas doesn’t significantly improve next season. So that’s four more games (six if Dirk plays in the East his last year, although I think it’s a longshot. My hunch is he stays with Dallas no matter what, even if he has to suffer Kobe-style through his final season). And that’s assuming neither of them has to sit out any of those games.

Kristaps vs. Dirk is a matchup that we may only have a few more of, if any, so this is a great opportunity to see them face off. Dirk was the epitome of a franchise player for the Mavericks, and he has 13 ALL-Star selections, an MVP, an NBA Championship and a Finals MVP to show for it. I hope Kristaps can have a similarly productive and storied career path, and I hope a little bit of that Dirk swag rubs off on him. Dirk is known for his remarkable work ethic, which is why at 37 he can still drop 40 points on Portland last week. Kristaps should mine him for any advice he has to give, and he would do well to schedule a meeting with Dirk’s famous shooting coach Holger Geschwendner this summer.

Honestly, I cannot wait for this game. I know it means relatively nothing so far as this season goes, since even if the Mavericks find a way into the playoffs they will be lucky to see a Game 5, but it’s a really interesting basketball moment regardless.

Only 7 games left including tonight, everybody. We may as well try and enjoy them.

See you at 8:30!

2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ (gulp) Warriors

Hello and welcome to tonight’s game, Knicks fans. I know the thought of watching a Knicks game is about as appealing as getting a series of papercuts on your tongue and then eating a bag of pretzels washed down with lemon juice, but tonight’s game is more about the opponent, folks. This is a team chasing history.

I always thought the phrase “chasing history” was pretty weird, Ted. I mean, isn’t history behind us? How can we chase something we’re ahead of?

My apologies to our viewing audience, I believe based on his quasi-philosophical mindstate that my colleague might have been indulging himself with an herbal remedy before our broadcast, folks.

Look, what I do before we come on the air is my business. Watching this team without a buzz going is your mistake, so stop trying to fuck up my vibe, Ted.

You can’t say that word on air, Bill, we’ve discussed this befo—oh wait, here come the visiting Knicks out of the tunnel. This is their only trip to Oracle Arena this season, a place where the Warriors have not been beaten all year. The Knicks have struggled like an arthritic grandmother trying to open a jar of pickles down the stretch of this season, so we certainly can’t hope for too much from New York tonight against the NBA’s best team, right?

Isn’t it about time we called it “Not-as-Old York? I mean, it’s been like 400 years since the state was colonized, right? The only thing that’s still new after 400 years is… like… a star, or something. And for that matter, what the hell is new about New Hampshire? I went there for the weekend with my wife a while back and we stayed in a Bed and Breakfast that must have been built before the Flood. It didn’t even have wifi, Ted. It was like visiting the Dark Ages, except with less freedom of religious expression.

Good point, Bill, but perhaps you have an opinion about tonight’s game? What chances do the Knicks have of pulling off the upset?

I mean, if it weren’t for John Irving novels, would New Hampshire even exist? Or would it just fade into oblivion like Josh Hartnett?

Anyways, folks, there’s only 14 games left in this season before I can mercifully stop being a part of this broadcast team for six blissful months. I look forward to draft beer, the ocean breeze, fishing with my—

Derek Fisher? Is he back? That dude was on point, man. So chill. We used to get lit in his office after games and send pizzas to Matt Barnes’ house when he was supposed to be watching tape for the next opponent. Whenever you passed him the blunt, he would say, “Fish is reeling it in!” and he would act like he was holding a fishing rod and do the whole turning-the-crank thing before he would take a hit. He could blow a killer smoke ring, too. This one time, we—

Okay, that’s enough of that, Bill. Let’s try to focus on tonight’s matchup, okay? There’s no better show in basketball than Steph Curry, who we get the privilege of seeing tonight with our own eyes. It’s just a different experience than what you can see on television. The energy in the building, the endless barrage of “NOnononoYESSS” shots that he’s able to make; it really is a palpable atmosphere, isn’t it?

I don’t know about all that, Ted, but I heard he’s also known as Chef Curry when I was scoring some pot behind a Toys-R-Us from a group of local middle schoolers cutting school earlier today. After I called a truant officer on them to avoid paying for the weed, it occurred to me that I never thought to ask where his restaurant is. Damn, now I’m hungry. Why did you have to bring up food right before a broadcast, Ted?

I didn’t. I asked about the arena’s electric environment.

Electric environment? I mean, that describes the whole world, right? Isn’t everything just energy when you get down to the nitty gritty? We’re all just atoms bouncing around randomly through the universe. Did you know the human body is 70% water? Guess what else is 70% water, Ted.

I don’t know, Bill. What?

No, you have to guess.

Ummm… Monkeys? We’re like 99% genetically similar so that makes sense to—

THE EARTH’S SURFACE, man. What if the entire Earth is just a human body? And we’re all just tiny, inconsequential metaphors for its existence? Like, what if plants are just capsules of light that we’ve forced into physical manifestation because we can’t stare directly at the sun for too long, and they need water because of our own selfish thirst for meaning in life?

Like the Knicks when Kurt Rambis discusses his coaching strategy, you’re losing my interest, Bill. I can kind of see where you’re going, but you might want to reel it in a little—

Ahhh man, that brings me back. I miss the Fish man! Now there was a guy who knew the importance of water. I guess when you need it to breathe, though, it moves up the scale of what’s important.

You understand that he wasn’t actually a fish, right? That was just his last name?

*quiet for a few seconds*

So he had you fooled too, huh? Figures. You never were that bright. Why do you think Phil fired him?

My guess is because he was doing drugs with media members in team facilities when he should have been preparing his team for games.

Nah, man. That’s what they want you to think. It’s better if you don’t ask any more questions, Ted. For your own safety, just let this one go.

Gladly. Oh, look, here comes Steph Curry and the Warriors as the home team takes the court to a deafening ovation. Wow, what a team we get to watch tonight. I can speak from personal experience that watching the Knicks lately has been about as much fun as writing an alimony check to a woman who lives in the house you are still paying for from the futon in your studio apartment. All while you listen to the neighbors’ every breath and footstep through walls thinner than Miley Cyrus after a juice cleanse.

Damn, bro. Told you not to marry that broad.

That you did, Bill. You also told me not to invest in Apple stock in the 80s because computers were a “fad,” that Adam Morrison would be the next Larry Bird, and that I should inject my infant daughter with HGH because, and I quote, “she is too small to play football.” You don’t exactly have a strong record in giving advice.

Computers are a fad, you’ll see. It’s just a longer fad than I thought it would be. We just talked about how humans are 70% water, and what breaks a computer? WATER. We’re just not compatible, man. And I was right about your daughter. She’s what, like, six now? And she’s still way too small to play football. She’s never getting a scholarship with that frame, Ted.

Well, the starting lineups are about to be announced and the game will tip shortly thereafter. I feel like, as always, we’ve wasted the audience’s time with this pregame show, Bill. But there’s something to be said for consistency, I guess.

Does Chef Curry have any food right now or do we have to wait until after the game for his restaurant to open? I feel like he’s playing this game right in the middle of dinner rush and that’s kind of irresponsible for a business owner.

Couldn’t agree more, Bill. Couldn’t agree more. Anything you’d like to add before the team introductions and national anthem?

Well, I’d just like to close by saying to our audience that this is Bill and Ted, and we are looking forward to another Excellent Adventure with all of you tonight.

If you say that one more time this season, I am going to lose the last shred of sanity I’m holding onto. Seriously, Ted. One more utterance of that phrase would be the equivalent of sentencing me to death.

Death is an illusion, man. You can’t destroy energy. Or water. Did you know the human body is 70% water? Guess what else is 70% water.

I hate you, Bill. And now to the third member of our team, our sideline reporter, who isn’t really a member of our team but more of the broadcasting equivalent of a tumor that networks still haven’t decided to get rid of even though they have been made vastly irrelevant by social media. Kevin, what do you think about tonight’s game?

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2015-16 Recap: Knicks 90, Lakers 87

JO-SE, JOSE JOSE JOSE… JOOO-SEEEE…. JOOO-SEEEE!!!

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After a pretty boring string of events to get us there, the end of the game was pretty damn exciting, wasn’t it? After everyone had sweated out their hangovers (poor Kristaps “stomach flu” Porzingis couldn’t hang, I guess. Part of growing up, kid) the 4th quarter was downright captivating for a game that meant nothing for either team. Kobe made a couple of signature shots, and had a couple of signature dumbass-hero-ball moments that cost his team. Melo made a couple of long jumpers to put the Knicks back up 1 with a minute left. It was everything I had hoped for, and in the end, Kobe clanged a go-ahead shot (what a shocker) and Melo would get his chance after a timeout to win at the buzzer. Right?

Not this night, apparently. The Gods reserved the spoils of victory for a Mr. Jose Calderon, an oft-maligned member of this ragtag group we call the Knicks. I don’t take back anything I’ve said about him, but you had to be happy to see the guy sink that 3 and march off with a W. This season has been winding down to an end more bitter than Taylor Swift after a break-up, so any happiness we can get, we’ve gotta take it, and I hope that’s how the team felt in the locker room. I’m pretty damn sure the boys all had fun this weekend living it up in LA and remembering that behind all the basketball stuff we talk about incessantly here and everywhere else on the interwebs, they are young men in the prime of their lives making ridiculous amounts of money to do a job most of us would kill for.

Kobe had 15 points on 5/15 from the floor in a game fitting of this forgettable late stage of his career. We just saw Peyton Manning suck his way to a Super Bowl before retiring, dragged by a dominant defense so as to hide how bad we would have all felt if Peyton had just slunk away after being benched for Osweiler. Kobe won’t get that kind of Hero’s goodbye; the perfect end to his story. It almost feels like the Jordan-on-the-Wizards years for Kobe right now, though he has remained a Laker his entire career. His team will likely finish with the 2nd-worst record in the league and he will fade away to the relief of many in the Lakers organization.

I was impressed with Melo (10-20, 26/12/4) last night, but also with RoLo (6-7, 16 PTS, 8 REB). There wasn’t a lot of stats to go around in this game that predictably was played at a snail’s pace of 90.8, which would be easily the slowest pace in the league if a team were to average it. As we all assumed, these guys were hung over and had no incentive to play hard anyways, so we’ve come to the “light jogging” portion of the season for teams with nothing on the line. At least it bodes well for Melo’s knees. Even if Rambis is throwing him out there 40 minutes a game, they’re not hard minutes and nobody should be taking any real risk of injury at this point.

D’Angelo Russell was a no-show (literally, a DNP in the 4th) in this game, going 1-7 for 4 points. I thought he would feast on the Knicks backcourt, specifically with Get Cic’ or Die Tryin’ starting, but he was the embodiment of a rookie guard last night. Those things happen, but it was a little disappointing given what I’ve heard about his improvement lately. I don’t watch many Lakers games for the same reason I don’t watch My 600 Pound Life—I’m not interested in watching something specifically about misery unless it’s The Leftovers. So I haven’t really seen the kid play much, and most of what I’ve heard about him throughout the season was bad news for his development, which in basketball circles is referred to as “Byron Scott-ing” a player. I enjoyed him at Ohio State and thought he would make a great player in the league, and I still do. But we saw no evidence of that in this game.

I’m writing about the Golden State game Wednesday, because even though it’s time for me to switch gears and focus on college basketball for the next week or so, I am a huge Stan of the Dubs simply because they are the equivalent of basketball porn IMO. If you’ve read any of my stuff, that’s probably come across pretty plainly, as I manage to fit them into roughly every other game thread or recap I do. They’re just so damned interesting. For history’s sake, this season feels really important. The question of “is this the best team ever?” isn’t asked very often, and if it is, it can usually be shot down quickly. But right now, that question is a very earnest one, and it’s impossible to look away from that. No, the Knicks have no chance on the road against a team that hasn’t lost a regular season game at home in over a year. But they also had no chance against the Spurs in a similar situation a couple of months back, and they were a wide-open Calderon 3 away from winning that game in stunning fashion. Anything can happen, folks. It’s basketball, after all, and it’s March Madness season. The basketball Gods make strange decisions around these times, and it creeps into the NBA too.

Have fun filling out those brackets, people. So far as I’m concerned, Christmas has nothing on March. Right now, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. So enjoy it, because the weather is getting warmer and basketball will dominate the sports landscape for the next three months.