“Son, here you have a man who owns a Lamborghini; another one who’s happily married to the love of his life; and another yet who just lost his job and got his car repo’d. Now tell me: who’s the rich one?”
“The Lambo one! We know for sure he has the money, a Lambo doesn’t sure come for pennies!”
“I think you have the wrong answer, child”
“Ohhh… so is it the married one? Because spiritual riches are more worthy than physical ones?”
“I think you have the wrong answer again, my son”
“Uh, dad. It can’t be the third one. From what you told me, he has nothing.”
“I agree, in a sense. The thing is, neither of them can be, and all of them can be.”
“How is it that so?”
“Because there are only two things that make a man rich, and you don’t know which man has them”
“I… I still don’t get it, pa”
“Of course. You’re too young.”
“So… would you please tell me?”
“Sure. You see, son, those two things are time, and hope. What good does all the gold in the world when you only have a month to spend it? Don’t you think a billionaire with a terminal illness would trade all of his money to live another ten years to play with his nephew in the backyard?”
“Oh, yes… I think so”
“And hope. Hope is even more important. You can have all the time in the world and all the money in the world, but if you have no hope… well, you’re poorer than anyone who has nothing but still wakes up with a big smile, because he hopes – and in doing so, he knows – that the present day will be the best day of his life. Every day”
From “The book I never wrote”, Farfa
Funny how just a few days can make all of the difference in the world, right? The last time I wrote a recap (six days ago) I was still writing scathing things about Tim Hardaway Jr., I was worrying about Mudiay being extended and. most importantly, I was dousing myself in hot coffee, alprazolam and fluoxetine just to stay awake during games without getting too anxious or depressed.
Now, the product on the court is still terrible, but at least I can watch it without trying to pull my eyes out thinking that the guy who’s relentlessly chucking still has two years and 34 million dollars on his contract, or that the quite bad starting PG who can’t shoot from outside is due an extension soon and apart from Fizdale magic there’s nothing granting him a second look (and still, we’re playing him 30 minutes per game). Suddenly. our aimless chucker is a starting PG who can’t shoot from outside and he’s playing more than 30 minutes, but that starting PG now has two more years on his relatively cheap rookie contract and might be a useful trade asset down the line.
The game itself was a pretty fun one in the first half. It started poorly, like a late reminiscence of the THJ era, with Matthews not being able to hit anything in sight and the defense looking completely discombobulated. Griffin abused everyone physically (no small feat on Vonleh), DeAndre looked disinterested just as he did throughout his Dallas days, and Smith Jr was always a step late in the rotations. Then, between the end of the first and the beginning of the second quarter, something happened. Mitch got in. Suddenly the whole team was looking to hit him for alley-oops. Dotson, Trier, Allen, everyone got in the game of “find your human pogo stick near the basket”, and it was a thing of beauty. It was like living again Linsanity for a few precious minutes, and marveling at the same time at the intrinsic mortality of the present and the inherent sustainability of the action. We got close (45-43 for Detroit) but some paint action from Detroit and poor rebounding from us sent us down 9 at the end of the second quarter. The third quarter was a bricktastic affair (17-15 for us in the period) which saw us get close again until a few bogus calls sent us spiraling a bit out of control again. The fourth quarter saw Detroit finally pull away thanks to some Blake action after a brief stretch of Kadeem Allen dominance ruined by another bogus charge call from the refs (Allen stole the ball at midcourt down nine after he scored the last unanswered five points, only to see his running layup waived off thanks to a Calderon-taken charge; now, I get Jose moves reeeaaalllyyy sloooowly, but he was clearly backpedaling there. The Knicks actually scored anyway on the next possession – a Lance Thomas corner three – but the momentum vanished like that). Dennis Smith Jr. put on his best THJ impersonation and the game was over. Nonetheless, this was the most exciting game I saw in a while from our Knicks, thanks to Mitch and a lot of newfound hope.
– Who else if not our best prospect in years, Mitchell Robinson (13 pts, 10 rebs, 2 blks, -1 +/-) in the first half was everything we could have wanted and even more. A behemoth above the rim, where he just outplays the 99.99% of his competition. Since day one we’re saying that if we had a competent point guard Mitch would be feasting at the tim. Now, we still don’t have a competent point guard (yet), but Mitch proved us right in a fantastic stretch of six minutes. Dunks, layups, rebounds, even an and-one. If this guy played consistently 24 minutes per game (and really, there’s no reason at all for that not to happen) I think he would garner a lot more attention from the whole league, ultimately making him a prized asset to dangle in front of New Orleans. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Mitch to go anywhere. but a Mitch emergence could make life for the Lakers and/or Celtics even harder in trade talks. Your #MitchB-RWatch: he’s currently posting a higher WS/48 than the rookie seasons of Bill Russell and Yao Ming, to name a few. If he maintained the current WS/48 and reached the 1000 minutes threshold, he would put up the 25th best rookie season ever. He’s also on pace for the 2nd best season ever by a rookie in BLK%, the sixth in BPM (and, strangely, only the 197th in VORP).
– Wesley Matthews (9 pts. 2 rebs, 5 ast, -11 +/-) can’t buy a bucket these days, but in the end who cares? I’m not even mad at him, mostly thanks to the fact that he’s a giant expiring. There are other things, though, that make me appreciate his bad play: he’s involved on defense (even if slow and ground-bound), he makes the extra-pass, he seems to understand basketball. Context matters: while he and his precedessor share the same salary, give or take, and some of the same infuriating tendencies, I guess nobody bats an eye seeing him shoot a one-dribble pullup jumper from 20 feet. I guess it’s like dating a girl/guy who’s very similar to your last partner, only you actually lived two years with the latter and hated her/his guts after a few months, while you know your new fling will be over after a few weeks, so who cares if she/he is into that pineapple pizza crap.
– DSJ is the only real tangible asset we got in the KP trade. Do I like what I see from him? Maybe a bit. I feel like he’s a better player than Mudiay (but that could just be my bias, or the fact that Smith actually looks for the open man from time to time), I’m pretty sure he’s way more fun to watch than Mud, I have no idea if he’s better than Mud at defense – but being worse is really hard – and I have, as we all do, a D-Rose themed fear that applies very well to Dennis. He had a blah game, I’d say a Fizdale magic game (25 points on 25 shots, 4 turnovers, astronomic usage), but in the end I think there might be an NBA player in him. Even if there wasn’t, I’m glad our FO doesn’t have to make a choice about his future until 2021. That totally settles the deal.
– I’m also looking forward to see Dennis win the dunk contest. If he did it while wearing a Porzingis jersey it’d be exhilarating.
– Will Knox ever hit more than half of his shots again? He literally did it twice in the whole season. That’s five times out of one hundred. Can you believe I’m actually looking forward to the day we trade Knox before everyone realizes he’s just not good?
– I seem to like DeAndre Jordan’s personality. It’s just a shame he stopped caring about basketball.
– Now think about what it means that Kanter still doesn’t play and we’re better for it while the last sentence is definitely true (also, at last it looks like the “We want Kanter!” chants got to an end).
– Is there any chance we trade Vonleh for a second? Dude’s looking very sad lately. Also a bit ineffective.
– Kadeem Allen is what we want Ntilikina to be, minus the freakishly long arms. I don’t know it that’s good for Allen or is the definitive indictment of the 2017 lottery pick.
– I can’t wait to discover if Fizdale can coach anything basketball related to an actual basketball team. Right now he looks more like a (not particularly competent) kindergarten caretaker. But, uhm, Fizdale magic I guess?
– This was your monthly token “Let’s play Lance Thomas for his defense on big ball-handling guys”. I would have played Kornet at the four for extended minutes, but who am I to say?
– I feared having Smith Jr would have been a little detrimental to Trier, and it looks like I was right.
– Dotson has been strangely inconsistent, but I can’t hold that against him, since it’s not like the rotations are consistent themselves.
And now, on to the next game against Detroit, and let’s see what the trade deadline brings along (but seriously, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Mitch, so… let’s talk about AD in the offseason, ok?).