Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks 134 – New York Knicks 136 (OT) – Game Recap

Ok, first of all: what an amazing game. I needed that. I think we all needed that. And I’m not talking about the win: I’m talking about 53 thrilling minutes of basketball, with lots of great NBA action this time. We already had a game that went to overtime (two overtime periods indeed), but it was such a slog that gave birth to the sushi recap. This one was different. It was highly enjoyable, tremendously involving, ecstatically adrenalinic. From time to time, it’s good to see a game like this as a Knicks fan first and a Knicks critic second.

Second of all: this is not sustainable at all. It was amazing to win but it won’t happen again like this: every Knick save for three (THJ, Knox and Trier) shot .500+ from the field. The team as a whole shot .531 from the field and (gasp!) .588 from three on 34 attempts. So let’s enjoy this one, because it was the game that made us regress to the mean after three horrendous slump-shooting games.

Third of all: aren’t you a bit dazed by Fizdale’s blabbering about Frank? He got his first DNP of the season and Fiz said something about “Nobody gets in my doghouse, they know they can get back into the rotation”. Oh really? In the fourth, we deployed a lineup without any nominal PG (even if we include Trier in the mix): THJ, Dotson, Knox, Vonleh and Kanter. And you couldn’t find a minute for Frank? It I didn’t know better (but do I?) this DNP would reek unmistakably of “Frank is traded by Wednesday”. If you’re not gonna play him, send him to the D-League. He really sucks as an offensive player right now, but I don’t think he deserves such gratuitous DNPs, especially on a night where Burke injured himself in less than two minute of gameplay and Hezonja found a way to play 12 minutes. I’m sick of this bulls*t from Perry (I’m assuming it’s his fault and there’s little it can be done to change my mind – for now – sorry if I’m explicitly calling bulls*t on this one).

But on to much sweeter notes, after this sour rant!

The great:

– Noah Vonleh (15 pts, 5 rebs, 1 ast, -4 +/-) keeps on being the catalyst for great Knicks games. He didn’t miss a single shot, going 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from three. He also played great defense on Giannis. Of course the Greek Freak got his (In my mind he’s the most dominant player in the world right now, just a smidge above LeBron and two above a healthy Curry), but Vonleh played him in the best possible way. Do you remember how everyone lauded over and over again Lance Thomas for his good defense on Antetokounmpo? Well, Vonleh did the same while playing actually productive basketball. He fouled out in overtime because of course you’re going to foul out guarding Giannis for 35 minutes. It has to be said that Giannis got a few star calls from the refs tonight, especially on a bogus uncalled traveling violation with just 2:05 to go in the fourth. His night began in the most auspicious way, with a thundering dunk on his first possession, who got the Garden riled up from the start. All in all, another great performance from Vonleh.

– Damyean Dotson (21 pts, 5 rebs, 1 ast, +15 +/-) is the living proof that whatever Fiz’s doghouse is, any sane person wouldn’t have put him in there. While you could theoretically give to his last three strong performance the old “sitting did him good” spin, the truth is that Dotson was performing really fine ever before that. Luckily his strong play in the first game where they needed him was enough to silence whatever order was made in favor of Hezonja. But, well, let’s speak of tonight: 21 points on 9 shots, good defense – a couple times even on Giannis after a switch, most importantly in the last possession of the fourth quarter – and the bucket that put the Knicks in front for good, maybe one of the best (if not the best, since you can count them on the fingers of a Homer Simpson’s hand) ATO we saw this season. He also is one of the few Knicks who run correctly the curl-around-the-screen-motion, and tickled the twine twice after one of those curls tonight. Dotson is for real and on an astonishing good value contract, raise your hand if you want to see him playing more!

– Emmanuel Mudiay (28 pts, 3 rebs, 7 ast, -3 +/-) had the performance of his life in the late fourth and in overtime. He almost singlehandedly carried the Knicks offense in that final stretch and was good at doing so. His efficiency was good but not great (28 pts on 20 shots), but he delivered in the clutch, hitting the three-point game tying shot with 24 seconds to go in the fourth and another two in the overtime. His shooting form from the perimeter is all over the place (think Russell Westbrook mixed with the worst Cobra Kai alum while intoxicated from cough syrup), but when they fall, they fall. I won’t expect him to hit 4 of 5 again anytime soon, but he picked the right night to do so. Those 7 assists were a welcome sight, also. I maintain that Mudiay is not a real PG, more of a combo guard. Nothing wrong with that, just saying that even if he develops more I wouldn’t be comfortable in handing him the reins of a team, and that we have a possibly superior one with the same build in Trier (I looked it up and amazingly B-R lists Trier as 2 lbs heavier than Emmanuel. Are we sure Zo didn’t pass some money to whomever is in charge of official measurements?). Still, a good game for Mud and a fun one to watch too.

The good:

– I guess that Kevin Knox (26 pts, 4 rebs, 4 ast, +5 +/-) will be the talk of the town in today’s newspapers. And, honestly, he deserves that, even if for one night. While watching the game during the fourth quarter, I thought it was gonna be an incredible outlier, because it looked like he was hitting every shot. During his last voyage to the stripe, at some point the MSG graphic showed he was 9/18 and 5/11 from three, far from what you would call “catching lightining in a bottle”. I would have liked to see him grab more boards, but his effort level was significantly higher tonight, even diving into the floor to try and get a jump ball in the third. His positioning in the offense was much better. His quick release and good sense of space on the perimeter reminded me (for one night) a bit of Steve Novak. Kevin played 37 minutes, was a plus-5 and however his career will be (not jinxing him this time; you already know what I think about him, but come on, even I can cut the kid some slack) we’ll always have the Knox game against the Bucks. By the way, here’s the list of Knicks rookies who hit 26+ points before Christmas (sorry, games in late season tend to count less for this purpose, as the competitiveness is not assured – remember Dot’s 30/10 from last April?) in the last 30 years: Knox, Trier, KP (twice), the immortal Chris Copeland and Channing Frye. It means nothing but it’s no small feat in itself, and Knox is the youngest.

The just above-average:

– Chuck Hardaway Jr. (21 pts, 4 rebs, 8 ast, +10 +/-) keeps on shooting badly, as for his last 6 games his TS% is a terrible 43.6, bringing the full season one to under 54, which is bad Melo territory. Luckily, he found other ways to contribute, as evidenced by his 8 assists and his plus-minus. Timmy played 47 minutes tonight, which means that, while we know that plus/minus is terribly inconclusive and noisy, the team was minus-8 without him on the court. He took another charge, which keeps him in second place in the whole league. Brief aside, again about Ntilikina: I guess Frank has done something awful to Fiz and his family not to see a single minute of action in a game where Tim Hardaway Jr. gets squeezed for 47 minutes, third most in the league for the season (to this date). Sorry, I really don’t get it.

The bad:

– Mario Hezonja (2 pts, 2 rebs, 2 ast, -6 +/-) found a way into this column even after his earth-shattering dunk/staredown/walkover in the first minutes. It’s not that he’s bad per se (well, he is, but that’s not the point): it’s that his presence on the court is simply not functional to anything. He kinda spaces the court, but what good is it if he can’t hit shots? If anyone deserves to be in the “not doghouse”, it’s him. Give Dotson the nod in the starting five for hell’s sake!

Fun-sized bits:

– Mitch didn’t foul out (Edit: yes he did with 1.2 to go. I erased that memory from my mind)! And had the game-sealing block on Eric Bledsoe in overtime. He got the task of defending on Giannis for the final stretch, after getting the same assignment in sparse minutes in the third and fourth, and guess what? He was pretty good at it. He put more attention in not going for the block, not leaving his feet early, not flailing around helplessly. He committed a very dumb foul on a Brogdon three point make in the fourth that was a bit reminiscent of KP’s closeouts, but he’s learning. I love his touch around the basket, but his hands need to get stronger and more confident in catching the ball. It’s good to know Fiz trusts the kid in crunch minutes. Well, at least until he puts him into the “not doghouse” for abstruse reasons.

– I’m sorry, that “not doghouse” thing just doesn’t sit well. I’m one of the most quiet, calm, soft-spoken people you’ll find around, but I can’t stand intellectual dishonesty.

– Enes Kanter was pretty inconsequential. Not good, not bad, just a bit mediocre.

– Allonzo wasn’t particularly good but contributed anyway: 9 points on 3-for-8, 6 boards, 5 assists for the rookie in 17 minutes of action.

– I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Malcolm Brogdon was -26 in plus/minus while scoring 22 points on 12 shots, getting 6 boards and dishing 4 assists. I guess he was the lucky talisman for our three comebacks during the game!

– Yeah, three real comebacks in a single game. The Bucks were up by 13 in the second quarter (Knicks get the lead 71-70 in the third with 8:48 remaining), up by 16 in the third with 5:30 to go (Knicks down just by three with 10:22 in the fourth), up by 14 in the fourth quarter with 6:54 remaining (Knicks tie with less than 25 seconds to go). Or are they two fake comebacks and a real one? I can’t decide.

See you on Monday against the Wizards and that insufferable jerk named John Wall!

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86 comments on “Milwaukee Bucks 134 – New York Knicks 136 (OT) – Game Recap

  1. Frank O.

    The Greek Freak literally travels all the time. In the fourth and OT I saw him shuffle his feet possibly more than half a dozen times.
    It’s literally one of his “moves.”
    It’s a bit of a crime.

  2. alsep73

    (think Russell Westbrook mixed with the worst Cobra Kai alum while intoxicated from cough syrup)

    You’re an artist, Farfa.

  3. Bruno Almeida

    Was the quote from Fizdale saying “Dungeon” or “Doghouse”? Because I saw versions of the speech with both, and well, not that it makes the speech itself any better either way, just curious.

  4. Z-man

    Third of all: aren’t you a bit dazed by Fizdale’s blabbering about Frank? He got his first DNP of the season and Fiz said something about “Nobody gets in my doghouse, they know they can get back into the rotation”. Oh really? In the fourth, we deployed a lineup without any nominal PG (even if we include Trier in the mix): THJ, Dotson, Knox, Vonleh and Kanter. And you couldn’t find a minute for Frank? It I didn’t know better (but do I?) this DNP would reek unmistakably of “Frank is traded by Wednesday”. If you’re not gonna play him, send him to the D-League. He really sucks as an offensive player right now, but I don’t think he deserves such gratuitous DNPs, especially on a night where Burke injured himself in less than two minute of gameplay and Hezonja found a way to play 12 minutes. I’m sick of this bulls*t from Perry (I’m assuming it’s his fault and there’s little it can be done to change my mind – for now – sorry if I’m explicitly calling bulls*t on this one)…I’m sorry, that “not doghouse” thing just doesn’t sit well. I’m one of the most quiet, calm, soft-spoken people you’ll find around, but I can’t stand intellectual dishonesty.

    Sorry, Farfa, this whole rant strikes me as intellectually dishonest. I doubt that if Knox got a DNP-CD for the same reason under the same circumstances that you would have offered anywhere near this lengthy and vitriolic of a rant.

    More importantly, should Fiz be criticized at all on a night his team beat one of the most formidable teams in the NBA for a thrilling home OT win be criticized at all? Especially when 2 guys who have been mercilessly ravaged here had career games?

    If you want to criticize Fiz for fucking up the tank, I get it. But for benching a 20yo who has been playing like a deer in the headlights? Or for not playing him at PG when every guard on the team is probably better at PG than him? I have to call BS on your whole “I can’t stand intellectual dishonesty” rant.

  5. Farfa Post author

    I just heard the speech now. He actually said “dungeon”, which makes it a bit creepier.

    Nonetheless, it remains nonsensical, just as the Dotson benching was. Fiz’s lucky threes were falling last night, or he’ll be catching some flack.

  6. Farfa Post author

    If you want to criticize Fiz for fucking up the tank, I get it. But for benching a 20yo who has been playing like a deer in the headlights? Or for not playing him at PG when every guard on the team is probably better at PG than him? I have to call BS on your whole “I can’t stand intellectual dishonesty” rant.

    I get your point of view. I also get that had the same thing happened to Knox, I’d be a little bit less angry.

    Only a little bit, though. It’s not about Frank. It’s about cost controlled assets here for the future. I said the same things (albeit in a more mellow way) about Dotson.

    There’s no way you opt not to play a backcourt guy on a night where you had 159 minutes to distribute between 5 guys (and Knox, I suppose) and that guy is not in your dungeon/doghouse.

    Fiz decided not to play Frank for whatever reason well before the game, and while it’s ok to keep the dirty laundry in your locker room, the whole dungeon/doghouse tirade sounded fake as hell.

    Just my two cents, it’s ok to think the opposite of me :)

  7. Farfa Post author

    I can’t help but see this season as what should be (internal development). If you don’t play one or more of Frank/Dot/Knox/Mitch/Zo even one game, unless they’re injured or are having conducts detrimental to the team, you’re automatically wrong.

  8. kevin5318

    If healthy, neither Frank or Dot should be benched if a guy like Hezonja(who is as bad statistically as Frank) still gets to play. Both of them have played at SF this season so there’s no excuse that the guards are better than them.

    And yes the dungeon comments are creepy as fuck.

  9. Z-man

    More generally, no one on this team that is either on a rookie contract or on a reclamation project deal should be entitled to playing time, nor should we as fans put too much stock into who plays or doesn’t play any given night or what Fiz has to say about it. He’s clearly going to do things that are at odds with an all-out tank, and he doesn’t seem to give a shit about whether a particular player is part of the future or a particular player’s contract status. Maybe that’s annoying, but it’s pretty predictable and rational given his situation.

  10. cgreene

    Oh it’s enough with the crap that every micro decision a coach makes has to be made with cost controlled assets in mind. So what if Frank rides it for a few games while Fiz tinkers a bit with this and that. Maybe Fiz thinks Frank is mentally and physically exhausted from his sucktitude and needs a few games off. What Fiz was trying to say is that he has no doghouse or dungeon, and that he’s tinkering with different lineups and concepts and because Frank sucks right now it’s his turn to sit out a few and that he will be right back in there soon enough like Dotson was. The ranting about it on this site is absurd and calling Fiz disingenuous when in fact to my eye he was being the opposite is even more so. We won the game with “cost controlled” assets Knox, Robinson, (hopefully) Trier and (even though the cost is high) Mudiay playing massive roles. Big eye roll to all the complaints about this after a fun night. Rant over. Back to being mostly a voyeur here.

  11. Z-man

    PS I love your recaps, Farfa and think you’re a standup guy. fwiw no one has ever described me as quiet, calm or soft-spoken…what you see here is what you get in real life!

  12. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    I think one of the parts of Fiz is being a good motivator is that he believes in people capabilities and really believes they can get better and this comes through to the players. Many people think of a DNP CD as being in the doghouse or dungeon, but I don’t think Fix thinks this way. So I don’t find his statements hypocritical. He never thinks of players being in the doghouse or dungeon, so he says they are not. That’s what he believes, even when those words describe the situation well.

  13. Farfa Post author

    He’s clearly going to do things that are at odds with an all-out tank, and he doesn’t seem to give a shit about whether a particular player is part of the future or a particular player’s contract status.

    That is most definitely the case; it shouldn’t stop us to say that it’s the wrong course (at least, fot the ones inclined to say so).

    Oh, and don’t get me wrong: Frank is playing terrible and something needs to be done to figure how (if?) he can improve.

    But Mario’s presence and Dotson’s recent streak of inexplicable DNPs make the roster management smell fishy.

    That said, everyone’s entitled to his opinion :)

  14. Farfa Post author

    @14

    I feel the culprit (if there really was one) is not Fiz, but Perry.

    Ultimately, Fiz is going to do the job they ask.

    @13

    Yeah! It’s ok to disagree but it’s even better to be able to discuss things :)

  15. johnno

    Based on Frank’s enthusiasm on the bench and at the end of the game, it appears that the only one not upset about Frank’s dnp is Frank. Based on how hard most of the guys usually play, it appears that the guys are buying whatever it is that Fizdale is selling. If Fizdale thinks that Frank needs a “mental health break” for a game (or three or four) to get his head back on straight, my guess is that he’s right (or at least Frank believes that he is right).

  16. Frank O.

    Wait.
    I think you are all wrong-headed here.
    The message should never be carte Blanche you played like shit but you always play because we’re developing.
    Frank is way, way too passive for this league, right now.
    Fizzy needs to send messages. The first being, if you’re not doing what we tell you, you will ride the pine (plastic?).
    They have been calling on Frank to take more shots, to look for his shots, to be aggressive.
    He has not responded.
    I like him and I think he could be a very good guard in the NBA.
    But if coach benches him and his play has been shit, and he has guys who can handle the ball better, then he rides.

    It sends a terrible message to the team as a whole that if you’re young and anointed, you should play regardless of how you are playing.

  17. Farfa Post author

    It sends a terrible message to the team as a whole that if you’re young and anointed, you should play regardless of how you are playing.

    I agree wholeheartedly. If Mario wasn’t playing I’d have nothing to say.

  18. danvt

    Is KP coming back this year?

    If he does and he’s good, and we keep up our run of good play we could get to .500. 4-2 in our last six games if I’m not mistaken. Zion train may not be coming our way.

    Yes, no big deal on Frank not playing. He has not been playing well and we beat MIL. Fizdale’s comments about it don’t strike me as strange at all. He still believes in the kid. He told the media as much. He’s going to work with his team individually and collectively to get them going. People over twenty years old will play. He’s trying to not have us draft top 5. That’s actually a good attribute in a coach.

    It would indeed be sad if there were teams that were literally the Washington Generals, you know? That’d mean that once we’re good, many wins would be meaningless because we’d encounter teams who weren’t trying. I realize drafting the next Larry Bird would be worth losing every game but I’m also happy that fucking MILWAUKEE can come in here and get some comeuppance.

    It’s a real league, with real players and real coaches who really want to do well.

  19. Owen

    Never heard of Torreira. Love that guy. Like Charles Oakley out there, just the size of one of Oak’s legs.

  20. kevin5318

    So Tankathon has us taking Ja Morant at 6 which sounds like the range where we’ll end up this season. Averages 31, 9, 9, 2 per 40 with a .663% TS% and 14.7 BPM at Murray State.

  21. Bruno Almeida

    @18

    But the point is, what message does starting Hezonja send then? He’s playing like absolute garbage, he has a .448 ts% and an astronomically negative BPM, he’s a horrible defender that has a track record of 3 seasons being terrible and is on a one year contract.

    Doesn’t starting a terrible player who has no place in the NBA send an even worse message? If we’re all about sending messages instead of developing players, then the messages sent have been bizarre and inconsistent.

    I’ve been very critical of Frank’s lack of improvement, to the point where I don’t believe in his development much anymore, but if you’re a coach that’s so much about sending messages and mind gaming your own players, you better show some consistency.

  22. Z-man

    But Hezonja was benched for two games already. This is the first game Frank has sat, and the team won. This is such a nothing-burger, I’m flabbergasted that we’re even discussing it to this length.

  23. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I think the messaging thing is overblown, as it’s unlikely that NBA players are tied to daily beat news like we are. They have millions of dollars in the bank and travel to nearly every major U.S. city in the course of their work — the Nets are not hanging out in a Meatpacking District club at 2 AM talking about Fizdale’s Hezonja minutes distribution, just as the Warriors are not in a private reception at a Napa vineyard arguing over Lloyd Pierce moving Alex Len and DeWayne Dedmon in and out of his starting rotation. Do we really think that there are scores of players around the league with the knowledge of the salary cap that, say, ephus has? I bet the average poster on this site has more knowledge of the Knicks’ last fifteen years of roster fuck-ups and management snafus than any active NBA player, including the weirdo savants like LeBron and Rondo.

    Do NBA players follow the trends in the NBA? Yeah, they absolutely do. But I think we’re talking about front page memes on Sportscenter and r/nba, not the nitty-gritty stuff that barely warrants a response from a team’s subreddit.

  24. Z-man

    There is also the possibility that the Knicks have soured on Frank and are trying to figure out what to do with him, and that they still believe in Hezonja because they think he physically and skill-wise suited for the SF/small-ball PF position and just needs reps and coaching. Or that they are hoping to build up Hezonja’s trade value before the deadline to try to get an asset for him. Or something we haven’t thought of yet.

    But the most likely scenario is that Fiz is just tinkering and wants to press the reset button for Frank for a couple of games, like he did with Hez, Dot, and Burke. It’s just not a big deal.

  25. Z-man

    @26 Last year, Hezonja played 1700 minutes to a positive VORP, and better in the second half of the year when he started. He has sucked for us this year, but to say that he has no place in the NBA is an exaggeration.

  26. latke

    For what it’s worth, I’m down with the idea of building some meritocratic qualities into your rotation decision-making process on a rebuilding team. It should be up to the front office to fill the roster with players who have the capacity to help the team in the big picture. Players like Hardaway and Kanter definitely should not be on a team like the Knicks.

    The problem is then that 2/3s of the active roster is composed of pointless players… Lee, Hardaway, Kanter, Thomas, Mudiay, Trier, Hezonja, Burke, Vonleh, Baker… All of them are either too old to improve or on expiring contracts.

    And the truth is that nearly any team in the east could put together a team with a shot at the playoffs if they wanted to. Rebuilding teams choose not to by eschewing vet free agents and trading vets of any value. The players who are unlikely to improve on rebuilding teams’ rosters are either 1 year washed up vet contracts like wtih Vince Carter who are there to mentor or else contracts that would require a bribe to move and extend beyond this year so would be impractical to waive.

  27. Stratomatic "In economic terms, the Knicks are in a double dip recession"

    Consistently good job on the recaps Farfa. You’re a good two-way writer. :-)

  28. chrisk06811

    If Mario, wasn’t playing, we would not have had that magical moment last night. The next time we play Mil, he has to play…..the thought of watching him try to escape a guy with the longest wingspan in the league who wants to punch him in the nuts will be linsanity level joyous.

  29. chrisk06811

    I’m ok to think Fiz knows what he’s doing motivating these guys in the short run. and it lets us see how Frank responds….it will tell us a little about his heart.

  30. swiftandabundant

    The FO doesn’t need to make a decision on Frank anytime soon. He’s here for 2 more years after this one. Mario, on the other hand, was brought in on a one year “prove it” deal and they want to see if he is worth resigning. Same way they’re evaluating Mudiay, Vonleh and Burke (and Kanter too I guess).

    Frank will get his minutes and everything will be fine with him eventually.

    My new prediction is that the Knicks will strike out on major FA this summer but will resign Vonleh, Trier, and Mudiay.

    At some point this season they will trade Burke with Lee for expiring or a young prospect.

    Mario will not be brought back.

    Frank and Kevin are staying put.

    They will add a top 5 pick to the current squad. Our 10 man rotation by next opening night will be:

    Mudiay/Trier
    Hardaway/Dotson
    1st Round Pick/Frank
    Vonleh/Knox
    KP/Robinson

    The press will flip out about us missing out on huge stars like KD, Kyrie, Kemba, Butler, Kawhi, etc. But once the season starts, we will be a young, exciting team to watch and we will make the playoffs next year, the first of many years in a row. From there…I don’t know.

  31. thenoblefacehumper

    Mudiay/Trier
    Hardaway/Dotson
    1st Round Pick/Frank
    Vonleh/Knox
    KP/Robinson

    Oh boy, I can’t wait to run back the 2018-2019 Knicks but with less cap space!

  32. latke

    @swiftandabundant

    With where the Knicks are in the standings right now, they’re most likely to pick either 7th or 8th and have only a 40% chance of picking in the top 5. You want a good chance of picking top 5, it’s time to make some choices upstairs about players like Hardaway and Kanter.

    I also don’t understand how your projection helps the team. Of all the free agents that will be available this summer, the ones on our team will be the best options to re-sign? And moreover, signing them for their market value is supposed to somehow give us a leg up? Just doesn’t make sense to me.

  33. Stratomatic "In economic terms, the Knicks are in a double dip recession"

    I think the reason so many people are preoccupied with Frank is that some people hate him as a player because he’s poor on offense and not a quick penetrating PG. On the flip side some people think since he’s already very good at 50% of the game, he doesn’t have very far to go on offense to be a net plus player. So he should be given minutes.

    Then of course it’s a sign of the times.

    These days people pick a side, dig in, and become incapable of seeing that the other side has a good point too. Passions are always too high.

    At least people here and on Twitter aren’t calling each other Nazis, fascists, and totalitarians yet. :-)

  34. Grocer

    I think he was saying there’s no dungeon in a no one is locked away forever sense. Maybe he was disappointed with Frank’s effort level. Mario is bad but he tries hard. Maybe sitting a few games will help him get his head straight. Or maybe they’re trading Frank.

    Also, Frank is locked up for years to come and Mario isn’t. If they want to see if Mario develops into someone worth keeping around they need to do so this year. He’s going to keep getting minutes even if he’s bad, probably as long as he keeps putting forth effort.

  35. Stratomatic "In economic terms, the Knicks are in a double dip recession"

    @35

    I’m pretty much in your camp.

    There are a few players we should pobably keep UNLESS a premier FA is available and we need the space, but that’s far from certain. It’s tough to know exactly what to do with some of these players without all the information. So it’s possible we don’t execute perfectly, but if we wind up with the team you highlighted I would not be shocked or diappointed.

    I just don’t want to see any panic moves with Frank. That’s the one thing that would set me off.

  36. Grocer

    @35 that looks like a likely scenario and not an entirely horrible one. Depends on the contracts. I feel like we’ll be able to get reasonable deals with those guys, we’ll find out first with Trier in a few weeks.

    And good job Kornet! Well executed one second of play.

  37. danvt

    Oh, and Mario earns himself more minutes just for the step over on Giannis. That was a foul on Giannis which, of course, was not called. Mario stepped over his legs, not his head. Maybe there was a tiny bit of attitude, which can be totally understood and happens every time someone dunks in an NBA game. Boy it doesn’t take long before guys think their s— doesn’t stink. Disrespectful my ass…

  38. Bruno Almeida

    I don’t think it’s an overreaction to dislike Hezonja starting while Ntilikina is not playing minutes, I think it’s a reaction to what’s Fizdale and he FO have been saying to the media, and how we perceive what they’re doing.

    There is an actual chance the lineup Swift has posted plus the 8th pick is the Knicks 2019-2020 lineup, and that’s pretty much a disaster. We’re all tired of the constant losing, but we’re seeing a front office and coaching staff that keeps giving inconsistent signs about their plans. I don’t think it’s overreacting to say that I disagree with what I see in terms of direction. It’s not about this game specifically.

    I don’t even care that Ntilikina specifically was benched, I would be in the same argument if it was Knox sitting so Hezonja can play. All they needed to do this season is to play the draft picks, get a very high new one next season and then see what’s going on and move accordingly, but there’s a chance they’ll botch even the simplest plan.

  39. Ingmarrrr

    Thanks Farfa, good recap.

    According to SI Philly offered Fultz for Ariza. I’d be on the phone today offering them Dotson. I like Dotson but he’s a career 6th man at best, and if Fultz gets his act together he moves the needle.

    EDIT: the article is from 10 days ago. Oh well. Maybe Dotson was back in the lineup to show something to Philly.

  40. Grocer

    @43 You’re leaving out the part where looking for possibilities in the junk yard is a real part of their plan and has been since the off season. There’s nothing inconsistent here, this is what they said they were doing.

  41. thenoblefacehumper

    Are there seriously people who think it’s a good idea to run this team back with salary increases for certain players, add Romeo Langford or whoever, and call it a day?

    I mean my god, I thought that was the one thing we all agreed was a terrible idea.

    This team’s SRS is -5.08, good for 26th in the league. There is no amount of optimism about KP and/or the pick we’ll make that would render it a good idea to keep this dumpster fire together.

    Like Bruno said, proper execution of the plan this year is incredibly simple. Give the most minutes to the guys we know will be on the team next year and let the chips fall where they may. It’s mind boggling that we’re fucking that up.

    I will say that I view it as more of a front office problem than a coaching problem. Fizdale shouldn’t be in a position where so many of his options do nothing for us long-term. It’s a difficult situation to navigate as a coach.

  42. Brian Cronin

    I will say that I view it as more of a front office problem than a coaching problem. Fizdale shouldn’t be in a position where so many of his options do nothing for us long-term. It’s a difficult situation to navigate as a coach.

    Yeah, Fizdale’s nonsensical answer almost certainly was because he wasn’t allowed to give his real reasons. So he had to try to make up something that sounded good. He failed at that, but he was in that position almost certainly because of the front office.

  43. nicos

    Frank’s not the victim of some shadowy cabal trying to derail his career- he’s a victim of playing extremely poorly. He started the first 14 games, he’s 6th on the team in minutes played, etc… If he’s benched for two or three weeks that’s an issue- not playing one game when he’s been even worse than normal for the last few games is fine. Also- lottery picks who project as role players are no bargain. Frank is slated to make 5,6, and then 8m over the next three years. The reality is if you’re looking to win games you can get someone who’s actually already a good role player for that money. Fultz may seem like a great low-risk option for somebody but he’s making 8m this year, close to 10m next and then 12m and 16m- you can get a pretty good player for 3/38m. Rookies are great when they’re out-earning their contracts but given the gutting of the middle class in the NBA lottery picks now have to be pretty good players to do so. Obviously winning games shouldn’t be a priority for the Knicks this year so Frank should be getting minutes so the Knicks can accurately assess what value he has but he’s going to have to improve a fair amount to be worth even his relatively low salary once winning games becomes a priority.

  44. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Oh boy, I can’t wait to run back the 2018-2019 Knicks but with less cap space!

    And let’s not forget that Kanter, Hezonja, Mudiay, Vonleh and Burke are in a contract year, so there’s basically zero possibility that we’re getting less than 100% effort from each of them. What that 100% effort means is one thing, but the contract-year phenomenon is real and there’s absolutely no reason to think that any of them will be playing as hard when locked into a multi-year, veteran-sized deal.

  45. nicos

    I should add that this off-season may rebuild the middle class somewhat- last year’s free agents really got shafted because everyone wanted to have space this summer. This year you’re going to have a ton of free agents and a ton of teams with space so some guys are going to get paid. Still, I think teams are much warier of Courtney Lee/Kelly Olynyk type contracts (multi-year 10m + deals) for guys that aren’t going to move the needle that much.

  46. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Anyone else missing the text style options in the comments box?

    Also, give me this guy with a 2nd rounder next year:

    https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/brandon-clarke-1.html

    He can’t shoot threes, but he’s putting up insane numbers as an undersized PF so far this year. 31 blocks and 9 steals in 206 minutes, eFG% of .787 on 22% USG, good rebounder and never turns the ball over. I think he’ll be 23 by the beginning of next year, so you hope he gives you great bench play while the young guys develop. I’d take Norvell if he slips to the 2nd somehow, too.

  47. nicos

    And let’s not forget that Kanter, Hezonja, Mudiay, Vonleh and Burke are in a contract year, so there’s basically zero possibility that we’re getting less than 100% effort from each of them. What that 100% effort means is one thing, but the contract-year phenomenon is real and there’s absolutely no reason to think that any of them will be playing as hard when locked into a multi-year, veteran-sized deal.

    The only guy I think you could really say that about is Mudiay- he lost weight and his effort level on defense has gone way up. Maybe if he gets a three year deal he puts the weight back on and starts loafing on defense again- I doubt it but it’s possible. Maybe Hezonja’s effort level has been better since Orlando didn’t pick up his option last year but he’s not exactly putting in Tony Allen-level effort right now. The other guys are playing pretty much the way they’ve always played effort-wise. Kanter has been the same guy his whole career (and realistically he was playing for a contract last year as well- he’d have opted out had there been a decent offer). Vonleh isn’t playing harder, he’s just playing better. None of these guys are getting 4/5 year big money deals this off-season so they should have plenty of incentive to start playing for that next contract as soon as the ink is dry on whatever they sign this summer.

  48. Bruno Almeida

    @45

    My problem is when reclamation projects get in the way of playing your own, cost-controlled assets. I have no issues with Hezonja or Mudiay or Vonleh getting minutes over Lance or Lee, I have issues when Ntilikina, Dotson or Knox are losing minutes to those guys.

    I even like Vonleh and I think he has a future, I’m just looking at this year as an absolutely pivotal transition year and a super rare opportunity, a bad and young team that has its best player injured for what should be almost the entire season. Well managed teams make use of those opportunities, hell, even historically stupid teams like the Grizzlies did and now they have Jackson to pave the way for the post-Conley + Gasol era.

    This season will be a disaster if Mudiay, Vonleh, Kanter and THJ carry us to the 9th pick, specially if the first two either don’t stay next year, or are too expensive to re-sign, or even if they are just good enough to get wins but not enough to merit a good contract. They’re all on contract years and that has to be taken into account on their performances too.

  49. Grocer

    To clarify, if we were to bring back Mudiay I’m seeing it as a 2 or 3 year deal where he’s making less than Frank will. I wouldn’t offer any of these guys Lee sized deals. Cost controlled is good, cheaper than cost controlled is better. But yes, contract year is a real thing.

    I still don’t have an issue with Fiz benching Frank for a game or three tho. Maybe it’ll be helpful, he’s a development coach and he’s seeing more of these guys than we are.

  50. Z-man

    nicos, you make a really valuable point about the value of rookie-scale deals. When a guy is giving you less than vet’s minimum production and costing mid-level money, there’s not much bang for your buck for the team control thing.

  51. Donnie Walsh

    Since pretty much the only defense of Ntilikina even being on a roster is that he’s young, the good news is that, even with his benching, he’s still another day older.

  52. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    @51

    If Clarke keeps up his play he’s certainly going in the first, perhaps even the mid lottery.

    If we’re at the #6 position all year, that’s not so bad, so long as we pick Ja Morant, who I think has been the 2nd or 3rd most enticing prospect this draft, along with DeAndre Hunter. I think there’s a good chance that this draft has some players hit in the mid lottery (like Clarke, Morant, and Hunter) because the narrative is centered so much around the big 4 (Zion, RJ, Reddish, and Nas) + maybe Bol Bol that reputation will precede production and more deserving players will available at 6, or 8 , or what have you.

    Zion is the #1 pick though, obviously.

  53. Bruno Almeida

    Morant could end up being the Lillard of this draft, great shot creator that gets to the line a bunch and is just a dominant scorer all around. I would like to see him improve from 3 and cut down on the absurd amount of turnovers he’s averaging by now, but I really like him as a prospect.

  54. Ben R

    If Frank is back in the rotation in a game or two I’m not too upset about his dnp.

    With that said I do have a bit of a problem with Fitz saying one thing and doing another. He started the season saying defense and hard work is what matters. Then he started the season in a promising way with Frank and Vonleh starting and even had Baker, probably our best defender, in the rotation. Then when we struggled he doubled down on defense moving Robinson and Dotson into the starting lineup, removing Baker from the rotation, but overall a move forward defensively because Burke and Kanter were not starting. That lineup played well and has been one of our best lineups with a +9.6 per 100 in the most minutes played of all the lineups. Then we had a dismal 1st quarter against the Magic and since then there has been no commitment to defense in the rotations and we quickly moved from a league average defense to one of the worst in the NBA.

    If defense is actually important then I’d like to see that reflected better in our rotations. I understand Mudiay starting but Frank should be his backup, I’d like to see Dotson and Mitchell back in the starting lineup and I’d have Baker in the rotation as our 10th man.

    Our rotation if Fitz was actually committed to defense:
    Mudiay
    THJ
    Dotson
    Vonleh
    Mitchell

    With bench in minutes order:
    Knox – for Robinson
    Trier – for Dotson
    Frank – for Mudiay
    Kanter – for Vonleh
    Baker – for THJ

    Trade idea: Thomas/Hezonja (whichever Philly would prefer) + Burke for Fultz.

  55. thenoblefacehumper

    The post-Zion portion of this draft is tough because I think Bol Bol is the second best prospect right now. I’m usually all for BPA, but man it would be a huge headache figuring out how to distribute minutes between KP, Mitch, and Bol (not to mention potentially Vonleh). If push came to shove I’d still probably grab him if given the opportunity though.

    Morant is #3 for me and clearly fits the team much better. I wouldn’t blame them for taking him over Bol honestly because a pure BPA approach has been shown to have some pitfalls.

  56. Z-man

    Ben, I think you are looking for way too much specificity in what Fiz said. He could have simply meant that he expects whoever he is playing to be committed and play hard on the defensive end. My personal opinion is that all the guys are giving 100% on the defensive end, it’s just that guys like Kanter and Burke are lousy defenders no matter how hard they try.

  57. Z-man

    Yeah, Fizdale’s nonsensical answer almost certainly was because he wasn’t allowed to give his real reasons. So he had to try to make up something that sounded good. He failed at that, but he was in that position almost certainly because of the front office.

    I couldn’t disagree more. I mean, determining that a coach is being manipulated by the FO and is afraid to say the truth by reading in to his post-game commentary about a 1-day benching of a 20yo scrub is pretty laughable.

  58. rama, king of superfluous poppycock

    I have been disagreeing about Frank with Z-Man for a year now, but I think he’s right – Fix’s comments are his own, and no big deal. Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation is usually correct. So when Fiz says no one is in his dungeon, he means no one is in his dungeon. He’s trying different things out, and different marginal players will have to sit for a few games here and there.

    For the overall team strategy, this isn’t good – Frank, Dot, etc should not be sitting, ever – but for a coach who needs his team to buy in, it makes sense. And whatever we may say about him, Fiz got his players to buy in.

  59. kevin5318

    It’s not just about Frank tho. Right now it looks like Phil’s draft picks (Frank/Dot) are alternating DNP’s so Perry/Mills’s guys can get playing time.

    I hope that it’s not actually the case.

  60. Z-man

    @67 wait…did Hezonja not sit 2 games? Has Mudiay not vastly outplayed Frank? Is Dotson not averaging 27 mpg in the 18 games he has played in, and getting high praise from Fiz? Is Vonleh not playing out of his mind? The only Phil guy that’s been truly buried is Ron, and you don’t hear a big Ron fan like me making up conspiracy theories over that.

  61. rama, king of superfluous poppycock

    @67

    I said in another thread that my worry about the front office – NOT Fiz – is that they are invested in their own players and not Phil’s, simply because of wanting to prove they are right. Otherwise, why sign Hez to that stupid, useless contract? And why talk about trading Frank, like Willy, at his absolute lowest value? But I don’t think Fiz is motivated by that. I think he’s genuinely searching for what might work, and paying more than lip service to “play well, stay on the court; play poorly, sit.”

    In other words, I believe Fuz, more or less, and while there are reasons to be concerned about what he says, there is also evidence that he is a net positive.

    It’s the FO that worries me.

  62. Hubert

    I’m more annoyed by the win than the Frank DNP. As long as we don’t trade him I don’t care if he gets benched when he’s playing terribly. I just hope it’s not an indication that he’s heading the way of Willy.

  63. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    I figured out a scary stat for the pro tankers here. The Knicks switched their starting line up to Hezonja, Vonleh, Kanter, Mudiay an Hardaway seven games ago, after the loss to Orlando on November 14th, and they are four and three since then. The strength of schedule has been pretty good, with all seven opponents being .500 or better. They have been outscored by their opponents by about four points a game, but that is mostly due to the Philadelphia loss, which was the third game in four nights and a back to back on the road. I’ve been thinking we will get a lousy draft position, but some reasonable chance of a good pick with the flattened lottery odds, but now I am not so sure. This seven game stretch could be a fluke of course, but it’s so much better than the four and thirteen Knicks that went into it, that it’s unlikely it is only that.

  64. chrisk06811

    there is absoutely no way Philly is trading Fultz for Dotson. there would be a mutiny. Maybe something involving Lee, maybe.

  65. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    Who would mutiny, Philly or NY? And is there something that just happened that made you bring up that particular trade?

  66. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    I think the most likely Knicks to be traded are Courtney Lee and Trey Burke. By March, Kanter should be bought out and coming off the bench in Milwaukee.

    I wonder if come draft night Cam Reddish will fall to us. Bol Bol, RJ Barrett, and Zion seem like locks to go ahead of him right now, and Reddish is actually a perfect fit for us at small forward. He’s not getting many touches at Duke, but he looks like everything Celtics fans want Jayson Tatum to be. He also seems like the type of player who would crush a 3v3 workout.

  67. Z-man

    Well, Willy has been riding the pine for a team who lost its starting C, i.e. has no market value beyond what we got for him, and he’s been replaced by a much better all-around player on a minimum deal and/or a second round phenom. So, I too hope that Frank doesn’t go the way of a meaningless minimum salary dime-a-dozen player, especially given that he’s on the cap for 3x Willy’s salary…

  68. Grocer

    By March, Kanter should be bought out and coming off the bench in Milwaukee.

    Since we’re not actually tanking, this will not happen unless (very remote chance) he asks out and we oblige. There’s just no way. And if he’s the kind of player who’s gonna win us extra games down the stretch then maybe we should bring him back on a cheap contract.

  69. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Is there something wrong with my browser, or did Mike K. replace the Knickerblogger logo with a picture of Takashi 6ix9ine in federal court?

  70. Donnie Walsh

    Fultz for Ntilikina is actually a pretty interesting trade. They don’t want to feel like they squandered Tatum + a pick on nothing, and Ntilikina gives them the political “we acquainted another lottery pick from that draft” excuse. And he could actually maybe even help them more than Fultz as a defensive funnel to a Embiid. It’s probably not gonna happen, but the Knicks should obviously jump at it if given the opportunity.

  71. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    I’ve suggested that trade. I think it would be good for both players. Fultz would get a developmental environment and Frank would add defense to Philly’s second unit. It doesn’t work straight up though, but if we traded Baker and Frank together for Fultz, it works in the trade machine and it would actually improve Philly’s salary picture since Baker is on the books for only one year and they could waive Baker as soon as they get him. We would then have space for Trier. It does put more salary on the books for NY for next year, and that might be a big drawback from the Knicks point of view. Since I am always skeptical of big free agent plans, I would do the trade, but I don’t know about Perry and Mills, much less Philly.

  72. Brian Cronin

    I think that Fultz would bring more than Frank in a trade. You better believe that there are other teams out there that look at Fultz and think, “We could fix him.” Whether that’s true or not, they likely believe it.

  73. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    I think so too, but it doesn’t stop me from liking the idea. I also think the perceived value of an actual number one pick is so high, that Philly would have a hard time accepting a deal this. But we can hope. We could throw in a second round pick maybe, assuming we have a spare one. (although given the performance of our recent second round picks versus our first round ones, maybe we think about that)

  74. Brian Cronin

    Fultz is just so fascinating. He does so many things well, but he just can’t shoot after becoming the #1 pick based in great part on the fact that he could shoot. It’s insane. Fox went #5 because he couldn’t shoot just yet, but the hope was that he would eventually learn to shoot while Fultz went #1 because he could shoot and now the guy can’t shoot at all! It’s madness!

  75. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    Oh yeah, I agree. And I also worry that I want him partially because of that number one pick aura and not because he’s actually worth his salary or trading for.

  76. Grocer

    I think Fultz has the yips and that’s an incredibly hard thing to come back from. Frank might get better, Fultz I don’t think so.

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