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Friday, August 22, 2014

Hail, Hail The Gang’s All Here

Well, if not today, then certainly by Tuesday in Los Angeles.

That is when Steve Francis is due to rejoin the Knicks as the new backup point guard. Things should get interesting. Francis was quoted in the Daily News as saying, “What we’re doing right now, I don’t think it would be right for anybody to try to break the camaraderie and the way we’re playing as a team,” Francis said. “Even without me, we’re playing great basketball.”

I dunno about “great basketball,” but it certainly is nice to see Francis (at least publically) say all the right things about coming off the bench. Coach Isiah Thomas is not exactly forthcoming about what his rotation plans are, but I am beginning to get the impression that Thomas wants to create an official “second unit,” so while most of us thought that Francis was going to be receiving Nate Robinson’s minutes, it appears instead that Thomas may look to pair the two (Francis and Robinson) as a bench guard unit. Seems like an odd decision, and I really wonder what this means for Jared Jeffries.

Renaldo Balkman is already basically done for with this new rotation, but while Jeffries could be the small forward in a “second unit” team of Francis, Robinson, Frye, Lee and Jeffries, I don’t see that happening, do you?

Especially with how awesome Lee looks while playing with the starters. His talents seem to be wasted a bit being paired with the bench guys. In addition, I would think the biggest benefit of having Francis play off the bench would be that Thomas would have a point guard in the game to pound the ball down to Curry, even when Marbury is off the court.

As a side note, if the Knicks win one of their next three, they will enter the All-Star break with the same amount of wins that they achieved all of last year. I think that’s more a knock on Larry Brown’s job last year than it is is a sign of improvement, but, well, it’s an interesting factoid, at least.

Three tough road games, though, to think about.

29 comments on “Hail, Hail The Gang’s All Here

  1. Ben

    Francis coming back could be great news if Isiah uses him right.

    Marbury’s knee is really giving him trouble which I believe is one of the reasons why we have been so bad on back to backs.

    I would love to see Isiah cut Marbury’s minutes down to 30-32 on most nights and even less on back to backs. Then Francis can spell Marbury while he is on the bench and hopefully we won’t have a drop off when Marbury sits.

    This limited role for Francis will also help to ensure that his knees won’t break down as well.

    As an added bonus Nate’s minutes would disappear which I really think would be a good thing right now. He is not fitting into our offense and his defense has been really bad lately.

    Hopefully Isiah will still find some minutes for Balkman backing up Crawford and Q and give Lee the starting job and let Frye and Jeffries split the time behind our big men.

  2. dave crockett

    I suspect you are right on your hunch about the lineups, although I’d anticipate lots of mixing and matching based on the opponent, the hot hand, and the fact that Marbury and Francis may not even have two good knees between them.

    I don’t think anything happens to Lee’s role. He’s the first guy in and almost always finishes the game.

  3. jon abbey

    whatever Isiah does, I’m pretty sure it will involve too many people, 8 (9 at the most) is ideal, maybe going to 9 makes sense because of Marbury’s health. what makes it even trickier is the James lineup is 2-0. nevertheless, I’d personally go with something like this tonight (players/minutes), assuming Francis is back:

    Curry-38
    Lee-35
    Q-30
    Crawford-36
    Marbury-30

    Frye-26
    Francis-15
    Robinson-15
    Balkman-15

    James, Jeffries DNP

    Okur (flu) and Kirilenko (bad back) are both gametime decisions, Boozer is out, this one is definitely winnable.

  4. jon abbey

    it’s certainly true that NY’s results are wildly, wildly, wildly unpredictable as I noted here recently, but I don’t think we’d have much of a chance against a Utah team at full strength in Utah, one of maybe 7-8 games I’d say that about all year (both Dallas/Phoenix/SA games, in Utah, maybe in Houston).

    Kirilenko will likely play, but no Boozer or Okur (who may play) gives us a way better chance, on paper at least.

  5. joe

    lets not forget how much better this team started playing when Francis went down. We’ve seen Isiah’s ability to swallow his pride and bench Jefferies who he was simply playing to justity the money he gave him. And Lee seems to be a few games away from the starting lineup espeially when he comes in 45 seconds in to the second half of hte Clippers game. And the same was going for Francis at the beginning of the season. Thomas needed to justify the Ariza trade but he’s a different coach that he was from the beginning of the season and I wouldn’t be suprised to see Thomas keep Francis in a permanent back-up and those buyout rumors become more truthful.

  6. jon abbey

    I’d also like to see Dolan extend Isiah’s contract a year at the All-Star break, assuming we don’t get swept on this three-game trip.

  7. KnickerBlogger

    I imagine that Balkman & Jeffries will fight for those “start of the second quarter minutes.” Isiah will probably give Jeffries (the veteran) first shot until he does something to make Zeke look to Renaldo. And with Jeffries’ play, that’ll happen soon enough.

    The one thing I’m looking forward to is Francis’ rebounding. Our defensive rebounding has slipped to 14th, and Stevie is strong in that area. I also hope he can keep driving to the hoop. What I don’t look forward to is the Knicks offense lacking a mid-range shooter, and that becomes very apparent with Francis on the floor.

    “I seem to recall some game recently where the two stars were out?did we win that one?”

    LOL!

  8. Ben

    I think Jeffries is better than you give him credit for. I would definatly like to see him get 15-20 minutes or so off the bench. I would also like to see Balkman get some minutes as well. Robinson and James are the ones I would to see get DNP’s.

  9. Sean

    I know Lee is a good rebounder but he cant shoot jumpshots and doesnt defend that great. Honestly keep him coming off the bench give him his 30 plus off the bench

  10. jon abbey

    at least Francis looked pretty good, and we were due to lose one of those. still a heartbreaker, up 10 late, the playoffs are looking increasingly remote. Jamal Crawford has to be the most frustrating player to root for in the league.

  11. dave crockett

    Once again, the turnovers were definitive. The carelessness with the ball just makes my head hurt. The Knicks had several key turnovers down the stretch and a quick look at the box shows it to be the clear statistical difference in the game. Twenty-two friggin’ turnovers (to Utah’s 14), leading to 8 more attempts for Utah. Curry, who otherwise had a very good game, especially at the FT line, had 8 TOs. Crawford had 6.

    And by the way, the Knicks got hosed by the officials all night long, and I was saying that before Curry got the bogus T for swinging an elbow and when the team Knicks were up 10.

  12. Jahmal DeLegall

    Not that he’s the reason we lost, far from it, but If I have to watch one more game end with Jamal Crawford dribbling out a healthy shot clock so he can take a contested 22+ foot jump shot, I’m going to throw my laptop thru my TV screen… Does he think it’s illegal to drive (or God forbid even pass it inside) within the last 30 seconds?? It’s to the point now where I’ve seen him piss away MANY more potential regulation/overtime wins with his horrific end of game shot selection, than the 7 or so last second shots that he’s made. It’s like he thinks he’s earning points for degree of difficulty! Just when you think he’s finally started to raise his basketball IQ… I’m so disgusted…

  13. Ken

    Clearly the team is still learning how to gel. ie (Crawford dribbling out the last few seconds of the game while 4 teamates become spectators) or ( feeding the ball to Curry while 4 teamates become spectators and watch him get quadruple teamed) Everyone is still learning what their roles (although far more defined currently than in the beginning of the season) are where their teammtes will be on the floor during a flurry of activity. If Isiah is successful creating a permanent 4 or 5 from the bench it should create for a more cohesive game from each unit.

  14. DMull

    Yup, good old Crawford at the end of the game. How is it that we still use him there?

    And what was the play at the end of OT?

    It seems to me like Isiah draws up some pretty nice plys UNLESS it’s at the end of game.

    Tough loss. The refs really did kill us, it happens some nights. Terrible calls though. (I don’t blame them for not calling the one on craw at the end of the game – didnt look like there was really any contact to me, to call a foul on a three at the buzzer)

  15. jon abbey

    “I don?t blame them for not calling the one on craw at the end of the game – didnt look like there was really any contact to me, to call a foul on a three at the buzzer”

    Fisher pulled a great veteran move, no contact on the arms, but he knocked the body just enough to throw Jamal too off-balance to hit the shot. the ref would have had to be at just the right angle to see it/call it.

  16. Dan Panorama

    It should be interesting whether their reaction to losing a frustrating winnable game is to come out fighting against the Lakers or just collapse in despair. I’m guessing the first one but last season any adversity and the team would fold for multiple games in a row. I like how they regrouped after that terrible loss in Miami.

  17. Dan S

    Disappointing game overall, i turned it off with 6 min left up 10 expecting a win…so much for that…Francis did play better than i expected in his time and i also LOVED the team unity with the headbands…as far as the rotation here’s my take…
    starters- Curry, Frye, Lee, RIchardson, Marbury…Crawford and francis with significant minutes off the bench…Robinson and Balkman get ok min and James only getting in when Curry is in foul trouble…Jeffries and Cato DNP’s

  18. Ben

    I actually think the minutes should be:
    Marbury
    Crawford
    Q Rich
    Lee
    Curry

    with
    Francis backing up the 1 and some time at the 2
    Balkman backing up the 3 with a couple minutes at the 2
    Jeffries and Frye spliting the time at the 4 and 5 depending on whether we need offense or defense.

    Nate, Rose, James, Mardy and Cato – DNP’s

  19. JustFoundOUt

    Do you remember Frank Williams? He’s playing in the D-League for a team called the Sioux Falls Sky Force. I remember him as a pretty solid player — good defender, good penetrator, couldn’t shoot though. The next time Francis gets injured (like it’s not gonna happen), what about bringing him in on a ten-day. He won’t get much pt, but a pass-and-defense first back up pg would be the worst thing for this team

  20. Brian Cronin

    It IS pretty amusing that Frank Williams APPARENTLY (I presume JustFoundOUt was not hanging out on this blog a few weeks ago) comes up in conversation this often. :)

  21. bullsfan

    I’ve been sweating out the Knicks playing pretty well this season (GREG ODEN Sweepstakes w the Bulls getting the Knicks pick).

    Can’t believe that Dolan told the team that Thomas is safe. From a Knick point of view it seems de-motivating and unneccessary. If they like Thomas (I’m not a fan) make them play to keep him.

    Just don’t get it.

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