J.R. Smith wins Sixth Man of the Year award

According to the New York Times, J.R Smith will be announced as the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year. The NBA will make the announcement at 2:30 EST from Madison Square Garden’s training center.

Smith averaged 18.1 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting from the field during the regular season. His previous career high in points came in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 15.4 ppg.

For the first time in his career, Smith didn’t start a single game during the regular season, but somehow still found a way to contribute to the Knickerbockers during a stint plagued with injuries.

After a subpar start to the season, Smith exploded in the month of March, tallying 22.1 ppg in 18 games played while grabbing six rebounds and racking up 1.4 steals.

But it didn’t stop there.

Smith’s heroics poured over into the month of April, where in eight games he continued his hot streak, once again tallying 22 points per game for the month.

The 18th overall pick in the 2004 Draft, J.R. has become as known for his aggressive, often brilliant play as for his inconsistency and inefficiency — the kind of player that can break out for thirty points for six games straight, only to go 1-7 and spend his post-game time engaging in Twitter propositions the following night.

Love him or hate him (please tell me you love him, because I certainly do), Smith has been the second scoring option and crucial offensive piece on an aged Knicks squad whose prospects heading into the season varied depending on who you asked.

Smith started the postseason on Saturday going 7-for-19 from the field, 1-for-7 from three, and missed his only free throw attempt, yet still found a way to contribute: 15 points, five rebounds, and a couple memorable highlights, punctuated by a thunderous second quarter driving dunk.

Smith finished the season with seven outings of 30 points or more. He also tallied a PER of 17.6, an increase from 15.2 last season.

Knicks sign Quentin Richardson

General Manager Glen Grunwald announced Tuesday morning that the Knicks will sign free agent veteran swingman Quentin Richardson.

Richardson’s roster spot was made available after the team signed and then promptly waived forward-center Solomon Jones after playing in just two regular season contests.

Richardson previously played with the Knicks from 2005 until 2009, averaging 9.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game during his stint.

The 6-foot-6 Richardson is expected to augment the Knickss arsenal of shooters, while hopefully providing some reliable perimeter defense.

Richardson has long been known as an above average three-point shooter, particularly from the corner. In 2006, his second season with the Knicks, Richardson shot nearly 38 percent from distance.

A 12-year veteran from DePaul, Richardson played with the Orlando Magic last season but was waived during training camp last fall. His career averages of 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds aren’t exactly eye-popping, and he doesn’t add much in the way of size to an already depleted front court.

However, Richardson has traditionally rebounded well for his size, and his solid defense could pay some spot dividends along a playoff path that could include Paul George, LeBron James and — more immediately — Paul Pierce.

Because he was waived prior to the regular season, Richardson is eligible for the postseason roster. The Knicks were also apparently eyeing Delonte West.

 

NBA Tells Shumpert to Take Adidas Logo out of His Flat Top

Apparently in the NBA, haircuts are taken more seriously than on-court activity.

As you may have heard, Iman Shumpert was informed by the NBA that he had to remove the Adidas logo that he had shaved in the back of his flat top.

According to Ben Goliver of Sports Illustrated:

Sporting a corporate logo during games is indeed against NBA rules. Item 5 of Section H of the NBA rule book’s extended comments section, which governs “player/team conduct and dress”, reads: “The only article bearing a commercial ‘logo’ which can be worn by players is their shoes.”

The language appears alongside other uniform notes, which include: no t-shirts, players must tuck their uniform shirts into their shorts, players must assume a “dignified posture” during the National Anthem, and coaches and assistant coaches must wear a “sport coat or suit coat” during games.

This isn’t an NBA-specific rule. In 2011, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement also banned players from having corporate logos tattooed on themselves.

Shumpert did sign a contract that restricted him from performing the aforementioned action, and it appears from his comments that he wasn’t consciously invoking the League’s ire, but rather was unaware of any issue with embossing a logo in the back of his cut. Though personally I chafe at the notion of restrictions that prevent an adult from making personal decisions with their lives and with their bodies, when a person signs a legally binding contract, freedom of expression is often limited, even in terms of something as seemingly innocuous as a triangle-shaped symbol.

The league has a vested interest in maintaining control when it comes to advertising. Countless dollars change hands due to the NBA’s  many sponsorship deals, from the advertising that appears on court to the team uniforms that are all manufactured by Adidas (ironically). Allowing players to become their own personal marketing vehicles is a can of worms that has the potential to impact their bottom line.

Of course, this little-known rule should surprise absolutely no one. The NBA has banned many things of greater importance than a hairstyle in recent memory. In 1985, Michael Jordan’s first pair of sneakers were banned for not matching the Bulls’ jerseys and violating on-court dress code. In October 2005, Commissioner David Stern implemented a mandatory dress code that eliminated anything that wasn’t ,”business or conservative attire,” for players who were sitting on the bench. Most recently, in 2011, the NBA banned taunting. Whether it be hanging on the rim or in the form of “stare-downs,” the NBA dishes out technical fouls as punishment.

The “crime” here isn’t just about my objections with the NBA bylaws, it’s with how 21 Shump Street’s haircut has been butchered. Even though some people and players have expressed negative opinions about his hairstyle, Shumpert’s hair is greatness incarnate. I must state upfront that this is coming from someone who has a flat top of his own. However, there is a bright side in the sullying  of the glorious backside of his nineties-esque, Kick-and-play and quintessential Fresh Prince-like high top fade; the NBA still hasn’t banned skyscraper high haircuts (for now).

I hope that one day Shump will be allowed to don a dazzling style, no matter what he products he endorses, while playing in Madison Square Garden. Odds are, that won’t happen any time too soon.

Take a look for yourselves (via Shumpert’s Instagram):

 

flattop_original

And you thought J.R. Smith wouldn’t say (tweet) anything?

Following the extravagant flush dished out by DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers on Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, Twitter began to erupt (as it usually does) with mocking, ebullient glee, as has become the norm after a particularly YouTube-able basketball event.

Truthfully, Knight (6-foot-2) had no chance of impeding the path of an uber-athletic, stronger, larger, mammoth of a man like Jordan (6-foot-11). For a team whose success is built around the freakish hops of Blake Griffin and the ability of a world-class floor general like Chris Paul, it’s often forgotten that DeAndre is equally capable of bringing the house and e-house down with his own exploits. Many a player  chimed in the Twitter and other social media to offer their own version of applause as well as pay their respects to Brandon Knight’s untimely demise. J.R. Smith being J.R. Smith, it’s inevitable that he’d add his voice to the chorus.

Smith’s response on Twitter Sunday night was thus:

IMG_3156[1]

Smith also went on to post a few images via his Instagram account about Knight’s embarrassing flop:

IMG_3157[1]

It’s not that J.R. was the only baller to delight in DeAndre’s unreal dunk–far from it. It’s just that because we expect him to haunt our late-night Twitter feed (and possibly search for signs about how he might or might not fare in a game depending on the lateness of the hour before he tucks himself to bed). Earl exists if, for no other reason, than to draw attention to himself. both for good (like his scoring wizardry against Oklahoma City) or for ill (butts), but, at this point in the season, with the absence of Carmelo Anthony, even with the impeding return of Carmelo Anthony, it’s been far more of the former than the latter. . Smith has been averaging 24.5 points per contest in the last four games and more notably has been shooting above 40 percent in the last three games.

Love him or hate him (and I’m sure many people attest to the latter), Smith is and will remain an raunchy, outspoken, and aggressive provocateur for the New York Knicks.

Ronnie Brewer Traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Ronnie Brewer has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a future second round pick, according to various reports. The trade opens up a roster space for the Knicks, who many expect to pursue a free agent in the coming days and weeks.

As numerous trade options spiraled about the Knicks camp — most of which involved a potential trade of Iman Shumpert — Ronnie Brewer became  the most movable piece the Knicks had to offer. Looking at a team that virtually had no way to improve a very strong roster based around the scoring efforts of Carmelo Anthony, trading for roster space was a smart move, even if it doesn’t have a major impact.

The Knicks will now be able to pursue possible free agent candidates, including Lou Amundson, Jermaine O’Neal and Kenyon Martin.

Brewer, who could fit well in OKC’s system, has the potential to be a good steal for the Thunder. While he did produce strong play for the Knicks at the beginning of the season, Brewer’s productivity has decreased steadily over time. After beginning the season in the starting lineup, Brewer had assumed a much smaller role — even so far as not playing at all in close games — heading into the trade deadline crunch time.

So, what should the Knicks do with their open roster spot? Reports have indicated interest in the above-mentioned bigs, but should they instead pursue guard depth? What does everyone think?

Carmelo Anthony Could Miss the All-Star Game

Carmelo Anthony is a warrior and one of the kings of the basketball jungle. In his finest moments otherworldly  play , you cannot help but recall the phrase,  ” A man among boys.” Halfway through arguably his best season to date, Anthony has more than proven he should be in the MVP discussion.

That said, even superstars need a break.

After injuring his right biceps during Wednesday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, Anthony has left open the option of sitting out the All-Star game.

Following the horrible 92-88 home loss to one of the worst teams in the Atlantic division, the evidence is mounting that Melo — who shot an abysmal 5-for-24 from the field — might need a breather. His shooting woes can easily be attributed to last night’s injury, a contusion on his arm sustained after driving to the rim while being elbowed by Demar DeRozan in the first half.

“It was something like a dead arm out there,’’ Anthony told the New York Post. “I tried to get through it and get some feeling back. Throughout the whole game, it was bothering me.’’

Melo is weighing his options and will likely wait until Sunday before deciding whether or not to suit up in Houston.

The biggest game of the year — outside of the playoffs, we hope — is definitely not a spectacle any player would want to miss. Teammates Steve Novak (Three Point Contest) and James White (Dunk Contest) will be participating, and Melo’ is understandably excited to leave his mark.

As for the Knicks, they enter the break at 32-18, good for first in the Atlantic Division and a playoff spot, but they’ve been decidedly mediocre of late, notching a 14-13 record after their scalding 18-5 start . Regardless of what moves the front office may or may not make before the trade deadline — and there have been a few rumors regarding Luke Ridnour and Jared Dudley bandied about — the Knicks should continue to be a force in the Eastern Conference.

For Mike Woodson and the rest of the Knicks, it’s still all about the end result; the chase for the team’s first title in over four decade. To achieve this lofty, possibly improbable goal, they’ll need Carmelo Anthony to be at full strength and then some.

So, as much as we’d like to watch him unleash his array of talents next to LeBron, Kobe and the like, for the sake of the greater good, we’ll have to suffer  an All-Star game that does not feature New York’s own number seven.

Should The New York Knicks Pick Up Lou Amundson?

After a rough January for the Knicks, they’re back to playing stellar basketball going 8-3 in their last 11 contests, but there still is work to be done. With all the major pieces in the rotation (Carmelo, Amar’e, Chandler, etc.), the Knicks need to look to add a final piece to their supporting cast of role players.

The Knicks have been very dominating this season. It’s second and fourth in the Eastern Conference in points scored and allowed per game, respectively. However, they have a more jarring issue on the other side of the ball.

Crashing the boards should come easy to a Knicks team that bolsters two Olympians (Melo/Chandler) and fresh legs in the frontcourt (Amar’e, Copeland). There should be no reason that the team is placed 23rd in the league in rebounding per game. Especially when three teams that are all playoff hopefuls (Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn) are all significantly better at crashing the boards.

Changes need to be made and there needs to be more support on the offensive glass.

This is where Lou Amundson becomes so valuable in a role player position for the Knicks to make a lengthy playoff run.

ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson reported on Feb. 1 that both the Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers were interested in bringing in Amundson.

The Timberwolves released Amundson on Friday afternoon to resign Michael Gelabale and Chris Johnson for the remainder of the season.

This makes Amundson valuable for a playoff stretch since he won’t be looking for much money but could guarantee a spot on the roster with improved play and added help to the rebounding woes of the Knicks.

At first, there isn’t a grand expectation for Amundson to come off the bench and light it up nightly. The 30-year-old is only averaging 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game during his six-year career in the NBA. Although his numbers look dainty, there is a hidden power within Amundson that usually goes unnoticed.

Amundson averaged 12.9 minutes a game, including a five-year low 8.1 minutes a game this season in Minnesota. But when looking at his stats per 36 minutes played, his numbers increase but leaps and bounds.

Lou averages a double-double per 36 minutes played in his career, with 10.6 points and 10.1 rebounds a contest in that time frame. That could be the difference maker for the Knicks.

The 6-foot-9 Amundson brings versatility into the frontcourt and can play the center or the power forward position at will, giving the Knicks all the flexibility they need in their rotation. In the absence of Rasheed Wallace, the age of Marcus Camby, and the future of the Knicks in the second half of the season, Amundson could be the defensive rock that Coach Mike Woodson needs.

Why not run away with a steal on a player who can improve the overall rebounding effort of the team. Losing on the boards is an easy way to lose a basketball game. With all the talent in the Knicks camp, Amundson could be the recipe to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.