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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Knicks Morning News (2014.08.11)

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Catchings Leads Fever Over Liberty (Mon, 11 Aug 2014 04:45:02 GMT)
    Tamika Catchings scored a season-high 29 points to lead the visiting Indiana Fever to a 90-76 victory over the Liberty, ending the Fever’s three-game losing streak.

  • 32 comments on “Knicks Morning News (2014.08.11)

    1. Z-man

      Moving on to another topic, I’ve been thinking about Amare and whether he can be a major factor this year.

      It’s a shame (but was very predictable) that the MTA frontcourt never fully materialized, mostly due to Amare’s travails. The back, the sliced hand, the knees… his $100 million uninsured deal was a nearly worst-case scenario, punctuated by some promising stretches…his first 40 games, game 1 vs. Boston, and now…his 2014 post all-star break resurgence. Which begs the question for 2014-15: IsAmareReal?

      STAT has a lot at stake this year. Unless someone gets, like, Isiah-level stupid, this will surely be his last year as an 8-figure salary player. Assuming he weathers the season without a total knee blowout, my guess is that either a 1-year $8-9 mill flyer, or a somewhat longer MLE-level deal are the best he could hope for.

      So in a critical late-career contract year, what can we expect from this man of great pride, and yes, great vanity? What will the new GM-coaching regime do for him?

      Optimistically, if managed properly, Amare can play 55-70 games @ 25-30 MPG (no back-to-backs, some recovery games, etc.) Think Tim Duncan. STAT has always been a fanatical fitness freak, maybe to a fault at the expense of his mushy knees. But he has clearly lost some explosiveness and vertical, and doesn’t rise above defenders for dunks like he used to. But his work with Hakeem has clearly paid off. He has become very crafty in the post, and in the last 1/3 of the season, he seemed to put those post moves together with the lethal jumper we were dazzled by when he first arrived. In 21 games as a starter, he averaged 28 mpg, 16 pts and 6 rebs at a TS% of .624. Those are all-star offensive numbers.

      The problem with Amare is that he is more of a liability than ever on D. Always befuddled by the P&R, he now can’t even move well enough laterally to keep the Josh McRoberts’ of the world from driving by him…

    2. Z-man

      (continued) And given that our PGs will continue to allow opposing guards to penetrate the paint at will, playing Amare at the 5 will not work unless you play a PG-less lineup (say, Shump and JR in the backcourt, Melo, STAT, and Acy/Outlaw up front with Melo at the 4 on offense. The triangle allows for the PG to be in less of a ball-dominant distributor role. Still, someone has to be able to bring the ball up court. But at the 4, he can still be a monster on offense, with Smith/Dalembert/Cole helping to mask his deficiencies on D and give Melo some rest. An effective STAT in the post might make for some really interesting lineups involving the bench players. In fact, he might be the biggest factor in establishing a rotation with some depth. Without him performing like he did as a starter last year, it seems likely that playoff hopes are contingent upon Melo being a 40 mpg workhorse again, and that’s not what you want from your $124 million man at age 30.

      I think we are going to see some magic from Amare this year. Barring a trade (and it would be STUPID to deal him if any asset needs to be included) Phil and Derek are going to figure out a way to get the most out of him, and in a contract year, Amare is going to throw some caution to the wind and go all out to prove that he isn’t washed up. The only question is whether the knees will hold up. If they do, that will be huge in terms of making the playoffs this year.

      Can Phil and Derek turn Amare into something like a 30 y.o. Antonio McDyess (with more offense and less defense) who was a major factor with those really good Pistons teams? And if yes, would Phil try to re-sign him at a reasonable price as a McDyess-like bench piece in 2015-16?

    3. GoNyGoNYGo

      First of all, I agree with your assessment and how the Knicks need to play with Amar’e on the floor. He can definitely produce but the days of 40 mpg are long gone. The other thing is that I have my doubts about his future. I remember reading somewhere that he was going to play for a team in Jerusalem after this season. Obviously he has not made a decision and a truck full of cash may change his mind.

      I love his offensive game now. His work with Hakeem paid off and he can now play with his back to the hoop. That’s key in the triangle where the big man controls much of the game from the post. Now we have to see if he can learn the system and how to play within it.

    4. Z-man

      Another factor I should have brought up is whether Amare can learn to pass out of the post. That has been a pretty significant weakness for him, probably masked somewhat by his high scoring efficiency. I mean, why pass when you score at a >.600 TS%? But the Triangle will theoretically call for him to pass out of double teams whenever they occur, something that Pau Gasol was great at. Not sure if Amare ever excels in this area.

    5. Kahnzy

      Ain’t no way Melo’s banging in the post as a 4 looking like that. I hope you’re right about Amar’e Z-Man, because unless Melo bulks back up some he’s not playing bullyball in the post anymore.

    6. Z-man

      That picture looks distorted, you can’t lose that much weight in your head.

      That said, I’d like to see Melo focus on being more of a 3, which might call for him to lose a couple of pounds. He’s great at the 4 but it puts pressure on other positions defensively, especially the 3 and 5.

    7. Brian Cronin

      While this is an inaccurate comparison (Melo is no Rudy Gay), this tweet about the Knicks this coming season still was a pretty good zinger:

      I’m really excited to re-watch the 2012-2013 Toronto Raptors (34-48), Calderon, Bargnani, Acy, and Melo as Rudy Gay.

    8. Z-man

      I wonder if Phil and Derek told Melo that he needs to lose weight, get into a better kind of shape for playing the 3, especially on D. Melo has always been in good enough shape, but never “cut” like LeBron or Kobe. Maybe it was part of the whole max deal negotiation, i.e., “Melo, if we are going to compete for a championship, you are going to have to take your training to another level. Phil talked about his disappointment with the Knicks overall conditioning when he was hired:

      http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/56205/jackson-upset-with-knicks-conditioning

    9. Kahnzy

      Melo always looks slim without the padding. I doubt that he has lost that much weight.

      The padding can be misleading, sure. But I’ve seen him without it and he’s definitely much thinner. I’d be curious to know just how much weight he’s lost, but official reports of that sort of thing are almost never honest.

    10. Brian Cronin

      It definitely does seem like he’s going to be more of a 3 this year. Honestly, I like him better as a 4, particularly since it opens up playing time for Shump/THJ/JR and takes away playing time from Bargs. In fact, if Melo is, indeed, going to be a 3 this year, doesn’t that suggest that Jax likes Bargs?

    11. yellowboy90

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BuybU-6IQAE6hTa.png

      I really do not see that much of a difference between the two pictures. Players are surprised by Melo strength for a reason because at his size he doesn’t look to be so strong. I mean maybe he is in better shape for playing the 3 in the triangle. I’d imagine he has changed his routine to fit the role he will play in the new offense.

      I imagine he loss about 5-10 lbs but it would surprise me if it is any more than that.

    12. thenamestsam

      He’s great at the 4 but it puts pressure on other positions defensively, especially the 3 and 5.

      Z-man, I agree with you in theory for sure, but I think with this specific roster that effect may be minimized. That is to say that in general I think Melo at the 3 with a true PF is better defensively even if Melo may be slightly better at guarding 4s than 3s (in my opinion), because you make up for that slight loss with the benefits of having some more rim protection on the court. The problem I see is that on this roster is that with the lack of solid defensive 4s, that defensive weakness is going to be there no matter what, and moving Melo back to the 3 makes the team a lot more conventional (and consequently easier to guard) offensively. I mean how much stronger defensively is Melo-Bargs-Dalembert or Melo-Stat-Dalembert than Shump-Melo-Dalembert? I don’t think it’s a massive improvement. Acy is probably the closest thing to a defensive PF on the roster and he’s actually slightly smaller than Melo. Not saying it can’t work and honestly I’m not well versed enough in the Triangle to know whether it’s as dependent on the spacing that 1-big provides as our previous PnR, 3-happy system was, but I’m not convinced the benefits on D would offset the loss on O with this roster.

    13. Brian Cronin

      I agree. I don’t mind Melo playing the 3 in theory, but in practice, with this particular lineup it really doesn’t fit well. The Knicks have fours they don’t want to play (or shouldn’t want to play) and 2/3s that they do want to play.

    14. BigBlueAL

      Melo will start at SF but Im pretty sure he will get plenty of minutes at PF especially late in games.

    15. johnno

      I think that it’s hard to tell if Melo’s lost weight because we’re used to seeing him in that flak jacket that he wears under his jersey so it’s hard to tell how thin/thick he really is. By the way, according to the draftexpress.com archives, Melo’s standing reach is only a half inch less than Love’s.

    16. Z-man

      I agree with BBA. One thing I read recently is that They may experiment with Jason Smith at the 4. That would make some sense; he’s not as bad defensively than Bargnani and has a higher b-ball IQ.

      In general, I think Fisher is going to experiment quite a bit with personnel combos and home in on what works best over time. The hope is that decisions will be based on sophisticated objective analysis and influenced by one of the greatest basketball minds on the planet. In other words, a far cry from, “The East is big…” and “He’s a big part of what we do…”

    17. dtrickey

      Should be an interesting year for lineups. Considering the expectations for the Knicks are fairly low this season, it’s probably the perfect time and ideal situation for a rookie coach to come in and experiment. I’m not saying come out and play some out there lineups, I mean it would be nice to win a few games, but I think Fish and the coaching staff can afford to make mistakes.

      On the Amare point, I just hope the guy plays well. I enjoy watching the Knicks way more when STAT is up and about.

      Also super shit news about Robin Williams. I grew up on a steady diet of his movies. If the reports are true then it’s a really sad way for him to go out. If you’re feeling blue, for the love of non-specific deity talk to someone!

    18. Donnie Walsh

      “Robin Williams, top-5 fave actor for me.” -Z-man

      I’d like to see the metrics you use to determine your top 5. Is it solely based on the flawed and mainstream-media driven “Laugh Test”?

    19. Z-man

      Actually, my favorite RW roles were in Awakenings and Good Will Hunting, both non-comedic. I’m probably one of the very few who liked his acting better than his comedy.

    20. Totes McGoats

      Robin Williams is just a brilliant entertainer. Period. When I got home from work and saw the headline..I was…wow..I was just floored. Sounds like a “tears of a sad clown” kinda story. I mean..this guy brought so much joy to people in his presence. Just to watch him on your ordinary daytime interview show and see how he interacts with the people..it’s a special thing to see. Great actor too. His comedy is hilarious to me, but his acting has been underrated. Sad day..

    21. bidiong

      Very sad about Robin Williams. When I think about it, I’m probably reaching, I can remember seeing him saying the jokes and people laughing but he never felt they really got it in his mind. Look at his smile after he made a joke. It was almost a forced smile. Maybe he lived on another plane then the rest of us. Most geniuses do.

    22. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      I too preferred his dramatic work to his comedy.

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