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Sunday, April 21, 2019

New York Knicks 96 – Chicago Bulls 86 – Game Recap

It’s cool being the worst team in the NBA for the season but knowing that your opponent is going to be the worst team in the NBA on the nights it’s facing you. Our active roster looks like this: two 9th overall picks, an 18th pick, a 23rd pick, two second round picks and three undrafted dudes. There’s no way someone is going to do worse, right?

Well, I present to you the April 2019 Chicago Bulls: a hodge-podge of fringe guys around a legitimate NBA player (Robin Lopez) and nothing else. They never presented a challenge to our own merry band of misfits, and how could they? They are essentially the basketball equivalent of the team Pro Evolution Soccer gave you at the start of a new Master League: computer-generated players lacking skills, namesake recognition and (sometimes) purpose.

Our guys started very strong, up twenty (35-15) with 2:30 to go in the first on the heels of strong performances by Kornet, Mitch, Knox and a bit of DSJ. The momentum hit a lull in the second when we fielded a terrible lineup composed by Garrett, Jenkins, Dotson, Ellenson and Hicks, where everybody was too slow and unathletic to do anything and our guys weren’t able to score for three straight minutes. Fortunately, the Bulls were also terrible but the stench of that lineup stayed in the air for the remainder of the game, and Chicago crept several times close to us. Like a bored old man in a hot summer night with a pesky mosquito, though, the Knicks kept mustering just the minimum amount of effort needed to keep the nuisance at more than an arm’s length, and the victory was never in doubt.

In the third quarter we were even treated to a jumpshot attempt by Mitch, who improves in every aspect of his game: his first jumpshot attempts of the season, in late October, was an airball. This one grazed the rim! Maybe by his fifth attempt he’ll actually hit the back rim. Anyway I was delighted to see him take the shot, not because it was good or even needed (it was neither of them), but because it means that he actually might have the freedom to attempt things outside of his comfort zone. I don’t want a jump shooting Mitch, but if he’s able to add a few wrinkles to his offensive game in the offseason, we’re going to have a real shot of having a superstar on our roster.

Notes about the game:

– This game meant absolutely nothing apart from the fact that winning it saved this ragtag bunch of scrappy-doers the ignominy to helm the absolute worst season in franchise history. Right now they’re tied with the Phil-laden 2014-15 abomination, and with a victory against the Pistons would condemn that atrocious iteration to stay alone in its own basketball hell. I’ll be rooting hard for these kids tonight.

– When Mike Breen said there would have been no Mario at point last night, I was visibly saddened by the notion. Judging by Breen’s frown, I think he shared my malady. The Mudiay experience has gone so far that a (mostly) sane person is forced to deeply appreciate the more nuanced approach to the position that Mario brings with him. It’s like going to rural China for a few months, and after that being delighted at the thought of a meal entirely made by Big Macs and McNuggets.

– Speaking of point guards, DSJ played in a very Mudiay-like manner last night. 25 points on 23 shots, 5 assists and 4 turnovers, and a general incapability to involve guys in the action. I seriously hope this version of Smith Jr is just hampered by his back problems, because there’s definitely not a lot to like about that. Also, his shot looks irreparably broken.

– A lot of us have been pining for Mitch and Kornet together. We know that this game shouldn’t count for much, but here they were: 20 points, 30 rebounds and 9 blocks (!) together. You know who would have played very well alongside Mitch, don’t you?

– Kornet’s numbers (12 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks and 2 threes) were great, and just the 11th such occurrence in NBA’s history. Only two players have done it more than once, one is Shawn Marion and you know who is the other, don’t you?

– Here’s the list of Knicks rookies grabbing 17+ boards on multiple occasions: Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, some guy named Johnny Green in 1959 and Mitch. The legend of the lob goes on.

– Apropos of lobs, it is really that hard to throw a decent high pass? People seem to have forgotten how to send a dime in the general Mitch vertical zone. It’s a shame.

– Again about Mitch: he’s now the 20th rookie ever to have blocked at least 160 shots. I’ll wait one more game and then I’ll shower you with all of the accolades and records he’s amassed in his phenomenal rookie season.

– Kevin Knox had a decent game, apart from the fact that he’s a remorseless chucker. 17 and 10, but 5-for-16 from the field (1-for-8 inside the arc).

– Kornet is a terrible chucker too, though. He needed 14 shots to get to 12 point. It’s ok being a stretch 4/5, but sometimes it would be good to hit those shots inside of the arc, you know? This season’s TS% is 53.7 for Luke, and that’s with him shooting a bad 41.5% from two. I hope he develops a couple moves from the post, if he wants to stick for good.

– I usually root for nobodies plucked from the G-League depths, but I can’t find the inner strength to actually lobby for Billy Garrett’s future. Sad thing is, he’s not that far from Ntilikina in terms of real basketball contributions.

– Madness all around the League! Magic steps down from the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations seat without telling anyone beforehand. Heat fans sing “Paul Pierce sucks!” after the Truth’s bonkers remarks about his career being on par with Dwyane Wade’s, only Wade was able to ride his teammates’ train a little more (it’s the same as hearing Britney Spears saying she’s equal to Whitney Houston, having had the same career and skills but being overlooked because one starred in “Crossroads” and the other in “The Bodyguard”). Dallas wins another game and loses ground on the tanking race. It feels good to be normal-awful, for once.

Guys, just one more. Let’s do this, and then keep our fingers crossed for 34 days.

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86 comments on “New York Knicks 96 – Chicago Bulls 86 – Game Recap

  1. alsep73

    I just can’t get over the Magic thing. Not that he quit, since he’s fabulously wealthy through his non-basketball businesses, and doesn’t need the headaches, constant mockery and dings to his own reputation that this job brought. It’s that he felt so unsure of his own resolve that he went straight to the media rather than first telling his “sister” Jeannie Buss, just in case she would be able to talk him out of it! And he repeated that fact over and over again!

    I cannot wait for today’s PTI so I can see Michael Wilbon twist himself into knots trying to justify this cowardly unprofessional behavior from his BFF.

  2. jazzfunk

    I heard all about Jumpin’ Johnny Green as a kid. There is not much video, but what exists is pretty special.

  3. Farfa Post author

    I heard all about Jumpin’ Johnny Green as a kid. There is not much video, but what exists is pretty special.

    Oh yeah, guy looks pretty good in this video. He also was a 4x All-Star in his days. (He also was a 26 year old rookie at the time of his rebounding heroics)

  4. Hubert

    Thread crossover… Just wanted to repeat my shout out to the Mavs for drastically increasing the odds of us getting their pick in 2021!

    What a win by Dallas! It knock them down to either a 20 or 26% chance at a top 4 pick, depending on their last game. Very big for a team hoping to get their pick in 2021.

    They were at 37% before this two game winning streak. Credit to them after a shameful tank job last year. They had the decency to respect Dirk’s final game more than percentage points.

  5. DRed

    If we’re talking madness, shout out to eternal Knick Jamal Crawford for becoming the oldest man in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a game last night.

  6. Bruno Almeida

    Thanks Farfa! I’m definitely stealing the Britney / Whitney comparison, just so you know

  7. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, that Crawford game was insane. He’s now scored 50 points in a game for four different teams. That’s pretty nuts.

  8. Hubert

    I really like Jeremy Cohen’s idea of trying to send DSJ to his hometown Charlotte Hornets perhaps for that 2020 Cleveland 2nd rounder, which I assume will be a top 5 pick in that round next year, assuming that a PG comes in FA

    I may be irrational but I feel like Dennis Smith should have more value than one second round pick.

  9. Brian Cronin

    It’s technically true that the Knicks need to get rid of someone to give Durant and Irving their full maxes, but depending on where the Knicks’ draft, the salary shave isn’t really all that significant. But yes, if they absolutely need the max each, then someone has to go.

  10. Hubert

    I talked about Magic here a few weeks ago. The man was a genius with a ball in his hands but he’s proven to be an epic disaster at everything else in life. He’s a great investor, but I think it’s fair to assume that’s because he has a great investment team around him and he’s just signing off on the decisions.

    Does anyone else remember “the Magic Hour”? Sheesh.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_Hour_(talk_show)

  11. Hubert

    Highly recommend last night’s Knicks Film School podcast where they went through the salary machinations of this summer including why (unless the 2 theoretical max FAs agree to take less) it’s likely one of DSJ/Frank/Trier will not be here next year.

    I’m really curious how they did their math here. Were they imagining a scenario where we won the lottery and had the #1 pick salary as our cap hold? Were they including Lance Thomas’ full salary instead of his $1mm buyout number? Did they count Jenkins and Garrett?? It doesn’t seem right.

    And fwiw, I think people underestimate the flexibility we have with Allonzo Trier. Even if we want to keep him, we can decline his option and sign him to a longer deal with more guaranteed money and a lower cap hit. There’s no reason to count him as $3.5mm.

  12. Brian Cronin

    Why would Trier want a longer deal for less money? His current deal is super sweet for him. If he makes the restricted free agent market, he could easily beat $3.5 million in offer sheets.

  13. Brian Cronin

    Speaking of the cap room, I think english_knick got it right here:

    If we waive Lance we’ve got 28m committed to 6 guys – Dot, Mitch, Knox, Frank, DSj and trier (and including Noah’s dead money).

    Add a cap hold for our 1Rp – if no 1 that’s close to 10m.

    Five empty roster charges – another 4m. So 42m and a cap of 108. About 66m in room. A ten year max and a 6-9 year max come to about 69m, though you can net two roster charges off that (67.6). Basically, to fully max KD and Kyrie they’d have to take slightly under the max or we’d have to release trier or resign him under the room exception, although it will be easier if we pick lower.

  14. Brian Cronin

    It seems, then, that if the Knicks end up in the #4-5 pick, then they’re fine with cap space. From #3 up, they would be just shy on max cap space for Durant and Irving (obviously, the higher they get, then the less cap space).

  15. Brian Cronin

    Wow, Dirk actually is retiring. That’s amazing that he waited until now to announce it.

  16. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    If the Knicks need to shed a salary to fit 2 max players, it could very easily come down to either Frank or DSJ.

    If the Knicks get Irving DSJ becomes superfluous.

    If the Knicks don’t get Irving/Durant, but get Kemba/Durant instead, DSJ becomes superfluous.

    If the Knicks don’t get Irving or Kemba but they draft Ja Morant, DSJ becomes superfluous.

    If the Knicks don’t get any of the big name expensive free agents and don’t draft Ja Morant, then cap space will probably be much less of an issue. They may even add some players on 1-2 year filler contracts to roll some of the space over.

    The real question is who do they prefer. Most likely they prefer DSJ.

    However, IMO, if you have the PG slot filled it’s virtually a no brainer to move DSJ. He probably has more trade value right now, he’s older, has back issues, and he’s less of a complimentary piece on a team with scorers like Durant, Kemba, Irving etc…

    If you have 2 elite scorers you are looking for role players that are happy defending, moving the ball, and doing other things of value on low usage. Frank is way more likely to grow into that role.

  17. Hubert

    Why would Trier want a longer deal for less money? His current deal is super sweet for him. If he makes the restricted free agent market, he could easily beat $3.5 million in offer sheets.

    I suppose you’re right.

    Good thing we blew our load on a one year deal for Mario Hezonja on day 1 of free agency instead of keeping some more of that mid-level to sign Trier to the Mitch deal.

    Regardless, I don’t think this is that much of a dilemma. If you’re adding Durant and Kyrie, you don’t have time to let Frank find himself and you don’t have enough of a role for Smith. Frank should be dumped for whatever space you can get and Smith should be moved for a pick.

    You could also combine Frank, Smith, and our draft pick’s salary (if it’s not top 3) to get $17mm that you can trade for a player or players who can contribute right away and make slightly less than $17mm.

  18. Hubert

    The real question is who do they prefer. Most likely they prefer DSJ.

    Could be Mudiay. They might trade Smith and Frank so they can bring their boy back.

  19. Frank

    Regardless, I don’t think this is that much of a dilemma. If you’re adding Durant and Kyrie, you don’t have time to let Frank find himself and you don’t have enough of a role for Smith. Frank should be dumped for whatever space you can get and Smith should be moved for a pick.

    but you don’t need to move both, so more likely it’s just 1 of the 2.
    FA#1+2 could take a little bit less each so that we can keep all the players.
    But even if they were willing to do that, you would think we’d be better off getting rid of one of the PG types in order to get more shooting and or defenders — we are very bad shooting team right now, and any team could use more defenders.

    If we were able to dump DSJ without taking on salary (ie. for a 2nd rounder) then we would have a few million in actual cap space even after 2 max FAs PLUS the room exception PLUS be able to keep Trier on his current contract. That few million would prob be enough to entice a ring-chasing vet that would provide more than DSJ.

    Frank makes a lot more sense to keep – value is at an all-time low so not a great time to trade him, and on a team that theoretically has KD/Kyrie, you need low-usage guys that move the ball and defend (And ideally who can shoot, but hey you can’t have everything).

  20. Brian Cronin

    Regardless, I don’t think this is that much of a dilemma. If you’re adding Durant and Kyrie, you don’t have time to let Frank find himself and you don’t have enough of a role for Smith. Frank should be dumped for whatever space you can get and Smith should be moved for a pick.

    I totally agree that it not much of a dilemma. It’s certainly not something you worry about when you’re adding Kevin freakin’ Durant and Kyrie Irving to your team, ya know?

  21. Hubert

    but you don’t need to move both, so more likely it’s just 1 of the 2.

    They don’t need to move both to make room. But you want to do more than just make room, right?

    If you sign Kyrie and Durant, you’re suddenly at a new point in the win curve. Do you really want to do what Magic did and hope that the kids step up? I don’t think Frank and Smith are good bets to become key contributors on a title team.

    I’m a little more optimistic about Knox. I’d like him as a forward off the bench.

    Dotson and Trier’s ability to hold down the 2 position is questionable.

    There’s no player other than Zion in the draft I’d be comfortable with as a starter, either.

    I don’t know how you solve this puzzle without getting a miracle with the room exception (like Miami always did).

  22. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    ould be Mudiay. They might trade Smith and Frank so they can bring their boy back.

    Fizdale not done straightening him out? :-)

  23. Brian Cronin

    It’s like which thing do you want to keep, gonorrhea or syphillis? Tough call.

    While I don’t think it’s quite that bad, I also agree that “We can’t sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving without getting rid of either Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr.! What will we do?” is certainly not a question that should actually worry you at all.

  24. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I can’t believe that Udonis Haslem has played 500 total minutes over the last four seasons. Four years of travelling in luxury as a celebrity athlete, living in the nation’s party capital, being paid millions to give high fives and defensive tips to Dion Waiters and company. Despite his hard-earned entry to the league, I was about to say that his late-career coattail riding is unparalleled in NBA history, but then I remembered 3-time NBA Champion James Jones exists.

  25. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I don’t know how you solve this puzzle without getting a miracle with the room exception (like Miami always did).

    This is why I’m not as enthusiastic about signing Durant now as I was previously. He has a short/medium term window that puts us into win now mode immediately. But there aren’t many easy paths to a team that can contend on a serious level quickly. It will probably take 2 or maybe even 3 years unless we start trading young players and picks for more experienced playoff hardened veterans. Do we want to do that? If we don’t at that point how good is Durant?

    A lot of our very young players are years away from whatever they will ultimately become.

    It will be interesting to see if those guys even want to come to NY after seeing how things went in LA for Lebron when they had a better young core last year than we have now.

  26. Farfa Post author

    It will be interesting to see if those guys even want to come to NY after seeing how things went in LA for Lebron when they had a better young core last year than we have now.

    I don’t know about Irving, but if Durant wants to come here it has nothing to do with rationality, so…

  27. Brian Cronin

    I don’t know about Irving, but if Durant wants to come here it has nothing to do with rationality, so…

    Yeah, exactly. Durant isn’t coming here for, like, Mitchell Robinson and David Fizdale. It’s because he has weird views about his own legacy. It’s inherently illogical, so you can’t apply logic to it. But hey, I’m glad that his weird views coincide with him wanting to come to New York! I’m all about your weird hang-ups, KD!

  28. Hubert

    Despite his hard-earned entry to the league, I was about to say that his late-career coattail riding is unparalleled in NBA history, but then I remembered 3-time NBA Champion James Jones exists.

    Remember that crazy old white guy on the Bulls whose job was to be Dennis Rodman’s best friend? Jack Haley, maybe? While his run certainly wasn’t as financially lucrative as Haslem’s, he was on the best single season NBA team ever.

  29. thenoblefacehumper

    Frank Ntilikina isn’t playing a minute on a team with so much as playoff aspirations unless he comes back next season having made an unprecedented leap. I’m not holding my breath.

    There’s a very small chance that DSJ could get to playoff rotation level by next season, but it’s not zero, so if I have to choose one it’s him. Like BC said, it’s not the question that will make or break our 2020-2021 season.

  30. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I don’t know about Irving, but if Durant wants to come here it has nothing to do with rationality, so…

    haha :-)

    He’s rational. It’s a matter of shifting priorities.

    At this stage of his life given what he has already accomplished at Golden State (with more to come this year), which does he value more?

    Does he want a higher probability at more titles or greater business opportunities and being “the man”?

    I can see a rational person in his position shifting priorities towards his future in business and not wanting to be the Warrior’s step child anymore, but I can’t imagine “titles” becoming irrelevant. If he comes to NY without some kind of clear path to contention in year 2, he’s not irrational. He just plain nuts.

    He could just as easily go to the Clippers, be with a more ready team, elite management, still be close to a major business market and Silicon Valley and be “the man”.

  31. Hubert

    This is why I’m not as enthusiastic about signing Durant now as I was previously.

    I mean, I’d still do it and hope for a miracle. The Heat got Mike Miller to take the room. Golden State got David West to opt out of a $12mm deal to play for the minimum. Crazy shit can happen.

  32. Hubert

    The Heat got Mike Miller to take the room

    Hold on, I fact checked myself: they got him to sign a below market contract, not the room.

  33. Grocer

    You could also combine Frank, Smith, and our draft pick’s salary (if it’s not top 3) to get $17mm that you can trade for a player or players who can contribute right away and make slightly less than $17mm.

    Still not convinced anyone is coming this summer, but this is probably the best case scenario in terms of jumping into win now mode. I remain extremely worried about this thing that you kinda have to do if Durant wants to be here. I’m less worried if Kyrie also comes, or just leaves Boston and Leonard leaves Toronto. Bucks are likely better than Durant plus random schmoes, as are the Rapters with Leonard and the Sixers (if they come back with some growth). Selling off future assets to be the fourth best team in the east would be the most Knicks.

  34. Hubert

    He’s rational. It’s a matter of shifting priorities.

    Agreed. His priorities don’t line up with some people’s expectations, ergo they think he’s crazy.

    If anything is irrational, it’s that.

  35. Farfa Post author

    Yeah, sorry, I should have written “with basketball-related rationality”. As in, actual basketball and win-loss record.

  36. Farfa Post author

    The draft lottery is 34 days away. Why can’t it be tomorrow?

    Because the waiting for the 5th pick is even sweeter than the 5th pick itself.

  37. DRed

    Mitchell Robinson-Luke Kornet-Kevin Durant-someone who doesn’t completely fucking suck-Kyrie Irving

    That’s a good team right there.

  38. GoNYGoNYGo Going for the tank

    DSJ and Frank are both tradeable assets. I would prefer to keep DSJ at this point because he looks like an NBA player. If we could flip Frank for a future 2nd, that would be OK with me. DSJ is actually worth a 1st but no team will bite on that. For the Knicks, trading one of their assets for future pick is the smart move since it will have a positive impact next year’s cap space.

  39. Brian Cronin

    I’m fine with saying it’s illogical to take less money to walk away from a dynasty to go play for a shittier team just so that you can be “the man” when you’ve won the last two NBA Finals MVPs. “I got the last two NBA Finals MVPs, but I don’t get enough respect!!” But, again, I’m all for his weird hang-ups about his legacy if it brings him to the Knicks. If your damage brings you to the Knicks, it’s all good by me, KD!

  40. Brian Cronin

    Mitchell Robinson-Luke Kornet-Kevin Durant-someone who doesn’t completely fucking suck-Kyrie Irving

    That’s a good team right there.

    A bold move by another team would be to try to get Kornet to sign an offer sheet right away and see if the Knicks can get KD and Irving signed before matching. Even $5 million a year would fuck them badly if it was done right away.

  41. Farfa Post author

    A bold move by another team would be to try to get Kornet to sign an offer sheet right away and see if the Knicks can get KD and Irving signed before matching.

    This is where we have to be happy that most GMs are complete morons and prefer to sign failed first round prospects

  42. Brian Cronin

    This is where we have to be happy that most GMs are complete morons and prefer to sign failed first round prospects

    Yep. It’s like I was saying the other day about Marks, but to a lesser extent, Perry, too. All you have to be to be in the top half of the GMs in the NBA is to not be a total moron. You achieve that goal and you’ll sadly rise right to the top of the heap.

  43. ptmilo

    The draft lottery is 34 days away. Why can’t it be tomorrow?

    who cares about the draft lottery when we are but a few hours away from our first late-season guilt-free meaningful game in years. yes i know i’m alone in the kayak.

  44. wetbandit

    I don’t know, I think I would do the same if I were KD.

    If I thought I was the best basketball player on the planet, I would certainly think hard about being the King of New York by coming here, winning 50-60 games, maybe take the team to the ECF, or even the finals. If I won them the championship, I would be bigger than Ewing, Jeter, Messier, and Namath were. And it probably wouldn’t even be close (He’d be in the stratosphere of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio).

    Add to that the business side of being that guy in NYC, when I’m going to retire in a few years, in terms of marketing, advertising opportunities, lots of businesses and investing opportunities , the real possibility of working for the team now or in the future (Walt/Houston), etc. They say location doesn’t matter anymore, but I don’t buy it.

    And the term ‘basketball reasons’ is nebulous. What is a basketball reason? Why is it not ok to go to a new, struggling team, to try to compete on a shitty team? When going to “advanced/HOF” mode on your favorite video game, it’s the next step when it starts getting boring. Why is joining a superteam with four top ten players more of a ‘basketball reason?’ Wanting to be The Man is bad? Why?

  45. Brian Cronin

    The idea that Durant would need to be in NYC to help his business interests doesn’t make any sense. “We’d like to work with you, but shit, you’re in San Francisco during the season? No deal. San Francisco is no place for business.” The only thing that makes any sense is that yes, if he won a title in New York, it would make him an even bigger legend than he already is. That’s about it. That’s the selling point for him walking away from a dynasty. That if he theoretically won a title in New York, he would be a bigger deal than he already is. Thank goodness the Knicks can offer that selling point. You can be the best GM in the world and you can’t offer that in Indiana or Orlando or even Brooklyn.

  46. Brian Cronin

    who cares about the draft lottery when we are but a few hours away from our first late-season guilt-free meaningful game in years. yes i know i’m alone in the kayak.

    The last two games have been that!

  47. Farfa Post author

    Ok, I’ll elaborate further.

    If I were Durant, there’s a real chance I’d do the same. I mean, LeBron already did! There’s something really tempting about trying to go to a storied, noble franchise of the past and lift it out of its doldrums. If said franchise is in New York, the more the better!

    That said, if you mostly cared about winning the Knicks are not the right choice, even wanting to be the man. The Clippers are much better, maybe even the Nets. If you come here, you do it because you love a great challenge and maybe you’re not valuing correctly the roster and the management. Which is exactly what LeBron did.

  48. DRed

    Playing for the Warriors may have gotten kind of boring for KD, plus you have to work every day with Draymond

  49. Farfa Post author

    The last two games have been that!

    Ahem, I don’t think they were meaningful for any of the teams involved. Tonight Detroit has pretty high stakes.

  50. Brian Cronin

    Ahem, I don’t think they were meaningful for any of the teams involved. Tonight Detroit has pretty high stakes.

    Touche! My bad, ptmilo, you’re right about tonight. Good call.

  51. Brian Cronin

    My favorite thing about KD from that recent The Athletic spotlight on him was the bit where he was shocked to find that when the Warriors defeated Lebron and the Cavs, that people did not then say that he was better than Lebron.

    Sources say that Durant believed his besting of LeBron James in the 2017 Finals would get him hailed as the game’s top player, a mantle he’s craved for some time. While LeBron averaged a 33.6 point-per-game triple-double in that Finals, Durant was superior defensively and hit the series’ biggest shot right in the King’s face.

    Instead, there was no grand reordering of rankings, and only so much credit to be had for a dominant playoff run. KD, who was “tired of being second” way back in 2013, was still stuck there reputationally, even in ultimate victory.

  52. Hubert

    I think Durant’s “thank you, next” rationale makes sense on a personal, financial, and basketball level.

    Of course, I say this as if the rumors are true. We’ll see.

  53. thenoblefacehumper

    This is why I’m not as enthusiastic about signing Durant now as I was previously. He has a short/medium term window that puts us into win now mode immediately. But there aren’t many easy paths to a team that can contend on a serious level quickly. It will probably take 2 or maybe even 3 years unless we start trading young players and picks for more experienced playoff hardened veterans. Do we want to do that? If we don’t at that point how good is Durant?

    If we sign Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, there is a very good chance we will have three full-time rotation players with a WS48 over .200. There is currently not a single team in the NBA that fits that description. Why exactly would it take so long for that team to contend?

    Hell, if we get Zion we’d have an outside shot at 4 if he can have a historic rookie season, which is not something I’d bet against.

    Before the Porzingis trade, the path to accumulating that level of talent was very unclear. Porzingis himself hovered around .100 for a while before getting badly injured and expecting a max contract. Now THAT would’ve been a team that would not have been able to contend for a while even with Durant.

  54. geo

    the wheels on the bus go round and round

    was in the shower this morning when I had this sudden thought – just how sweet it is not to have timmy on our roster to talk about anymore…

    at that point i also realized I must be having a good morning to be in the shower and not thinking about work or any other “real” life kind of stuff that i may need to address or resolve – other than a grocery list I’m putting together for when I go shopping after work…I like grocery shopping though…

    my next thought was even sweeter than the timmy thought – if we had not traded kp about 60% of the knickerblogger focus would be on kp and all the shit he’ll have going on this off season…

    it’s those little things in life that you have to appreciate at times…

  55. Hubert

    Eh. That just means everyone is printing the same article. I honestly think all the noise might work against us. He’s a prickly dude who hasn’t seemed to appreciate the speculation.

  56. d-mar

    The thing I don’t quite get about Durant is that he left OKC to join a super team and had to know he wasn’t gonna be the alpha dog and would also catch a lot of shit for taking the “easy route” to a title.

    Now he feels slighted and miffed that Curry gets all the attention and he wants to be “the man” on the Knicks. In reality since he got his rings and Finals MVP he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone who knows anything about basketball, but he’s certainly acting like it.

  57. DS

    @63 – Agree. Although you could also frame the decision as KD preferring to restore the Knicks than to chase additional championships.

  58. Brian Cronin

    The thing I don’t quite get about Durant is that he left OKC to join a super team and had to know he wasn’t gonna be the alpha dog and would also catch a lot of shit for taking the “easy route” to a title.

    From The Athetlic spotlight, apparently he seriously didn’t for whatever reason.

  59. DRed

    Sports media: Durant is a coward for joining Golden State’s superteam

    3 years later

    Sports media: Durant would have to be a moron to not stay at Golden State it’s guaranteed titles

  60. Hubert

    From The Athetlic spotlight, apparently he seriously didn’t for whatever reason.

    I can see why. LeBron got beat up for forming the Heatles but as soon as he won the heat went away and he got his due. Durant expected the same treatment. The public gave LeBron more credit because he started his superteam from scratch.

  61. Hubert

    This is all armchair analysis from me, but I think there is a part of Durant that hates the media and mainstream opinion so much that he would enjoy not signing with the team everyone has spent the last 6 months assuming he would join. If all things were relatively equal, that is. He wouldn’t go to Memphis to spite the universe, but Brooklyn should seem very appealing if he wants to be in NY and buck expectations.

  62. swiftandabundant

    Lebron got credit bc he went back to his hometown team which had never won a title and his team pulled off a huge upset over the greatest regular season team in NBA history. When they were facing the warriors nobody really thought of the Cavs as a super team, ya know?

  63. Brian Cronin

    He means with the Heat. The biggest insult Lebron dealt with with the Heat was when the league bogusly gave Rose the MVP over him in Year One. In year two and three, though, they gave Lebron the MVP.

  64. Hubert

    The idea that Durant would need to be in NYC to help his business interests doesn’t make any sense.

    You’re absolutely right. But he did set up his Family Office here. Being in the same city as your office for half a season will enable him to be more integrated in it. That makes a lot of sense.

    Frankly, I think that’s the smoking gun that he’s leaving. If he hadn’t done that, I’d still favor GS. SF is a great place to have your office, too, you know? Why would you set it up in NY if you’re going to be in SF?

  65. Bruno Almeida

    I think at this point there’s too much smoke for there not to be some fire at least.

    Media personalities, players, all seem to think he’s going to the Knicks. Of course that doesn’t mean he will or that he can’t change his mind in the next months, specially depending on what happens in the playoffs, as the Warriors might have some challenges this year. But I don’t believe people are just blindly speculating, one guy making a bold statement throwing shit at the wall to see if it sticks is one thing, but it’s a lot of people.

    I think if Perry and Mills do everything right, Durant will come. He’s said he’s all about the money and New York is simply the place where he can overall make the most, in businesses and other stuff. It doesn’t feel like the same situation as LeBron, where we didn’t know but they had a plan to go to Miami all along.

  66. Hubert

    That just led me to check out his Firm’s site, by the way. Look at what this guy is doing:

    https://thirtyfiveventures.com/newstag/thirty-five-ventures

    Look how much media content he’s creating. Now imagine how much more interest there will be in his content if he’s a Knick. It’s a better story. And it’s going to be broadcast constantly in the world’s biggest market, with the support of a massive media conglomerate. And when he’s done playing basketball, don’t you think MSG is going to be buying his shit forever?

    This guy is smart AF. He is going to be a billionaire and y’all are talking about him like he lost his mind because he doesn’t want to win another title riding shotgun for Steph while his ex-teammate wins another MVP.

    He’s not gunning for Jordan’s rings, he’s gunning for his net worth.

  67. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I’m still waiting for a top superstar to wield his power to serve short-term goals. Still completely baffled by LeBron committing four years to LA, and for what? Morale?

    If I’m a Durant-level free agent, I say to the league, “Put together a 50-win core with a max FA slot. Give me a 1+1 and I will win your franchise a championship.” I don’t understand why guys like LeBron are giving up end-of-career flexibility for a nominal increase in yearly salary. With LeBron, you could see most of his team buying into the egoism that he alone can carry a team to a Finals appearance. That myth has officially been busted, and if the LeBron team truly believed that, they need to spend some money on risk analysts to set them in the right direction.

  68. Grocer

    I don’t understand why guys like LeBron are giving up end-of-career flexibility for a nominal increase in yearly salary.

    Fear of injury and/or decline is probably a pretty strong motivator for guys like Lebron to lock in 4 guaranteed years.

  69. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    @74

    Lebron stands to make more money when his basketball career is over than he has during his career. By all accounts he has accumulated a nice portfolio of capital. It would not shock me if he doesn’t care about basketball nearly as much as he once did. He may be playing primarily because he’s physically still at a very high level and he can add more cash to his bankroll. I think he has way bigger long term business aspirations in TV, movies, and entertainment in general and went to LA to put it all in motion.

    It he wins another title I’m sure he’ll be happy about it, but he wants to become a multi-billionaire. You don’t seek out a friendship with Warren Buffett while you are a relatively young man unless you have BIG financial dreams.

  70. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    People that say Durant to NY is a basically a done deal are conveniently leaving out his comments from as recently as August of 2017.

    https://www.slamonline.com/nba/kevin-durant-says-will-never-play-knicks/

    Sorry, Knicks fans: Kevin Durant has zero interest in relocating to New York.

    KD was recently in Gotham—which he called the “so-called Mecca of basketball”—to unveil a newly renovated court at the East Side Community High School, and when asked when he’ll become a Knick, KD said “never.”

  71. Hubert

    Durant probably has enough leverage to 1+1 the Knicks and then sign after next season. Hell maybe even the following season.

    Would anyone really be shocked if we were willing to guarantee Durant a max salary thru age 36 or 37 just to get him in now?

  72. Brian Cronin

    I have to go to a charity thing tonight, so I’ll miss the game. I’ll put up a game thread early before I go, though.

  73. TheOakmanCometh

    Even superstars face enough age-related decline that they couldn’t sign 1+1s forever. Like, if Lebron was a free agent this offseason, would he definitely get a 5-year max?

  74. Bruno Almeida

    LeBron’s case was special because one of he main driving factors was him wanting to be close to his family living in LA and his other endeavors. It’s a bad decision in terms of winning, but it’s become clear he’s not only about winning, he’s about his brand.

    Now, other stars definitely would gain more by following what Jowles suggests, specially the ones in their prime without a big injury history. A guy like Kawhi Leonard for example could certainly go towards that route.

  75. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    If we sign Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, there is a very good chance we will have three full-time rotation players with a WS48 over .200. There is currently not a single team in the NBA that fits that description. Why exactly would it take so long for that team to contend?

    Signing Durant feels like a no brainer to me in some ways, but not if we start trading away too much of our future as part of it to go into win now mode.

    If you are saying that Mitch is the 3rd player, imo (as much as I love him now and long term) he’s not ready to cope with the more intense play, pressure, and defense of a playoff battle. We’d also have no one with the required seasoning behind the top 3 or on the bench.

    I’d see this as a reasonable expectation.

    Year 1 you are top 4 in the east, but get knocked out early.

    Year 2 the young players improve, you have a little more seasoning, and add another couple more vet role players. You make a deeper run but probably get knocked out.

    Year 3 the young players are starting to blossom and you can add/upgrade more. That would probably be the year that if everything went right you could have a real shot to win it all. But it’s probably a 1-2 year window before Durant starts declining. He’ll be 34 and who knows if Kyrie’s knees will hold up.

    You can accelerate it by trading away some youth for vets now, but then when Durant is done you are kind of barren again. Mixed feelings for me.

  76. Hubert

    I’m still waiting for a top superstar to wield his power to serve short-term goals.

    You don’t think LeBron did this to Dan Gilbert? That guy is still paying his luxury tax bills. LeBron got him to pay everyone.

  77. Hubert

    Side note:

    How does one reach out to Mike K with an idea? I’d post it here but it involves some personal info i don’t want to drop.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask him for a column. You guys suffer enough just having to read my comments.

    It’s just something to give back to the community that I think would go over well.

  78. swiftandabundant

    Everyone is so focused on a championship. If we don’t sacrifice too much of the youth we now have and are able to have 3 to 5 years of 50 plus wins with Kyrie and KD, get to the conference finals a few times, have a shot a title…is that really so awful? We have our picks going forward, we have the extra Dallas picks…playing on good teams with stars CAN help young players develop as they gain experience playing in meaningful games and have teammates who are the very best and can teach them some of their tricks. And if the Knicks are actually GOOD for more than one random 54 win season…its going to help erase the stigma of us being a laughingstock. Even without a championship, I think its totally worth it. Just don’t trade away all of our young players to surround Kyrie and Durant with veterans that will be gone when they’re gone.

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