2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Nets

During the summer of 2010, in the height of the Lebron James sweepstakes, the New Jersey Nets commissioned an enormous, building-sized billboard across from Madison Square Garden. The appearance of the billboard, featuring Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z, sparked some anger and frustration from people at the Garden and Knicks fans everywhere. The coverage of the publicity stunt in the Daily News reveals some interesting things floating in the air during that time:

Nets CEO Brett Yormark was surprised that the Knicks would be upset by such a move, while suggesting that he does not believe his team’s cross-river rivals are taking seriously the Nets’ bid to land James.

“When we went to our ad agency and said, ‘Give us some available billboards,’ they came to us with this location. Obviously we felt it was a bold statement but we decided to go for it,” said Yormark, one of at least five recruiters, including Prokhorov and Jay-Z, expected to make a pitch to James in Thursday morning’s wee hours. “If (the Knicks are) upset, they’re upset, but I can’t suspect they really are. They don’t think about us.”

The 225’x95′ sign sends to the Knicks a not-so-subtle message. More importantly for the Nets, they are hoping that it also convinces superstar free agents such as James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that they are to be taken seriously in their effort to rebuild after last season’s 12-70 debacle.

The Nets have been on a marketing roll since the end of the season, making headlines by getting Prokhorov approved as their new owner, hiring charismatic coach Avery Johnson and trading Yi Jianlian to clear valuable cap space that can be used to lure James and one of his free-agent pals.

There’s just so much to deal with in that short string of quotes. In fact, it’s so much, I can’t begin to do it here. Only five years later, Brand Brooklyn has become wildly successful. The Nets…not so much. We all know the KG/Pierce plan that fell apart as fast as you can say “takin’ ovah.” We all know that “hiring charismatic coach Avery Johnson” turned out to be less than a fan favorite and hardly resulted in anything worth mentioning. James shunned Brooklyn. He shunned NY. In fact, he teamed up with the two players mentioned in that article to win a couple of titles in Miami. The Knicks and Nets both collapsed into an assortment of quivering piles of blubber, despite spots of fun along the way. The 12-70 season the Nets endured, just prior to the offseason of The Decision, seems quite familiar to Brooklyn fans at the moment. Knicks fans have fresh trauma from last season’s 17-65 apocalypse, but there’s no dreams (delusions) of Lebron James to sustain our hopes this time. That’s where this story diverges.

In 2010, both clubs were left holding flowers, like some sad, basketball bachelors. Each team attempted to quickly regroup by wheeling and dealing and trading picks. The Knicks got a broken Amare and a bored Bargnani, not to mention dealing the whole deck for Melo. The Nets mortgaged the future on two decrepit Celtics and traded away everything they had in their draft pick bank account in the process. Somewhere in that mess, however, the Knicks got a little smart and a lot lucky. While handing out our own first round picks like they were on fire, the league rules prevented us from dealing our 2015 pick. The 2015 draft, as blind luck would have it, seems like the deepest draft in a decade or more. Even after a 65-loss season, the Knicks dropped to 4th in that serendipitous lottery, and defied common ignorance to nab Kristaps Porzingis. If you ask Knicks fans about the kid, you’re likely to hear things about Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Arvydas Sabonis, Kevin Garnett, Thor – son of Odin, the Singularity, or some combination of all those things. The Knicks have also taken on a different, smarter personality as an organization, looking for solid pros and targeting under-the-radar assets. They’ve invested in developing a D-League team that means something. They’ve stashed a couple of young, promising European players. And so on…

The Nets are in a tough spot. In a different universe, I’d feel some sympathy for Brooklyn fans. That universe would start without an obnoxious billboard next to the Garden, and without the Brand Brooklyn blitz that’s swept the area with much bigger style than substance. Maybe it’s just me, but there are few things I dislike more than people who talk big, but have nothing to actually back up the talk. The marketing has outpaced the play, which is a very convenient metaphor for the geography of Downtown Brooklyn as well. That’s a different story. The Nets managed to nab a solid player in the first round. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is never going to be a star player, which is trouble considering the Nets’ draft pick situation, but he’s already shown that he can impact basketball games in a number of ways. He’s a pro. The franchise is in dire straits as it cruises towards an epically bad season without any drafts picks for as far as the eye can see, and plenty of more attractive destinations for the many free agents-to-be in the next couple of years.

Tonight’s game is hardly a referendum on any of those big picture things. It’s just another game in a long NBA season. The Knicks aren’t going to accomplish anything significant if they beat the Nets. The Nets aren’t going to halt their current death spiral if they manage to upset the Knicks. The impact of the contest is rather minimal in the end. The narratives that extend back to 2010, however, influence the way fans will react, and perhaps how the media will drum up interest in an otherwise pedestrian game. There is no rivalry, although there seems to be animosity. The feeling is more like two broke guys staring at each other and resenting the predicament through the person standing before them. I hate you because you remind me so much of myself. So what of the game?

If the Knicks lose this game, it will be because Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot inconsistently. It will be because he allows Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to slow him down in a way that seems confounding to the imagination. If the Knicks lose the game, it will be because Thaddeus Young is the type of athlete that could give our young Porzingis a rough night. Young is long, athletic, and can defend both the perimeter and post with some ability. He’s just good enough on both ends of the floor to exploit Kristaps and take him out of the game. If the Knicks lose, it will be because Joe Johnson finds his shot and Afflalo loses his. If the Knicks lose, it will be because Jarrett Jack feasts on the ham-like flesh of Jose Calderon and plays out of his head for 48 minutes. If the Knicks lose, it will be because Shane Larkin and his bench mates will outplay the Knicks’ subs. As I keep going, these scenarios get more far fetched, but you get the idea.

If the Knicks win, it will be because Carmelo Anthony relishes his match ups with guys like Hollis-Jefferson and puts guys like that in the spin cycle. Coming off an illness and a down game, Melo seems primed to go off for 40 points tonight. Everything would point in that direction. This is his town and he’s got a little something to prove, even if it’s just a little something. If the Knicks win, it will be because Kristaps Porzingis evolved into his next Pokemon form and leaves Thaddeus Young in a heap of sad desperation. There’s no Bargnani for our Latvian Superman to torment, so it’s got to be Thad. If the Knicks win it’s because they’re a better, deeper team. Really it’s that simple, despite all the narrative games we might play. I haven’t even mentioned the “Bropez” thing. I doubt that matchup will decide the outcome of the game in any meaningful way. It’s just quirky and funny.

This game is certain to be substance over style, both on and off the court. That’s the Knicks’ salvation and the Nets’ demise in a nutshell. Grab your popcorn. Let’s go Knicks.

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102 thoughts to “2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Nets”

  1. I got invited to play in a league game at the Knicks practice facility tomorrow. If Kristaps is there working on his game, I’ll give him a KB shout-out and a few pointers.

  2. There is no rivalry, although there seems to be animosity. The feeling is more like two broke guys staring at each other and resenting the predicament through the person standing before them. I hate you because you remind me so much of myself.

    Screw that Debby Downer. I’m planning to have lots of fun watching the Knicks beat a team I dislike fairly intensely. I believe there is a real rivalry even if it’s only local. And I don’t feel self loathing as a Knicks fan. So there.

  3. If Kristaps is there working on his game, I’ll give him a KB shout-out and a few pointers.

    Scream “DRed for GM ’16” if you see any ownership looking people around.

  4. Zinger’s three has really come along. Just seems like he’s developing at a ridiculous pace

  5. Man, I just couldn’t be more impressed with the way KP plays. He’s good all over the floor.

  6. Man, I just couldn’t be more impressed with the way KP plays. He’s good all over the floor.

    Its insane how effortless he make it look at times.

  7. I love how Seraphin literally looked at a wide open Jerian and decided instead to try for the shot before passing it to the cutting d-will.

  8. The bench unit actually extended the lead, which tells you a lot about the Nets’ bench unit.

  9. KP is such a good teammate he gets up to applaud his teammates scoring with a 25 point lead in the game.

  10. If you combine Robin Lopez and Derrick Williams do you get Robin Williams?

    I am here all night folks! Wackawackawacka!

  11. I need to get on Lance Thomas’ off season program

    As the 2016 GM, you need to get everyone on Thomas’ off season program.

  12. You know, say what you want about Melo, but we could have traded for Joe Johnson…..

    And that was a totally horsepoop call on Treetops….

  13. Hubie Brown saying the refs should’ve appreciated the great pass by Porzingis and waved off the 3 sec call lol.

  14. I’m just reposting this here because I put effort into writing it earlier and I want it to be seen. My opinion on the Porzingis minute thing:

    My very uneducated two cents on minutes. I know at 20 years old I could run around all day. By 29 I could still run around but not for nearly as long at a frantic pace. Now granted, I was never a world class athlete on a strict diet and daily routine, however I don’t think the minutes are as big of a deal as fatigue. Obviously just the fact you’re out on the court increases your chance of being injured. I believe there is a correspondence in fatigue and injury increasing. As you fatigue you lose form and dexterity which increases the injury risk. That is what I’m worried about more than actual minutes played. I’m less likely to die in my recliner tonight than my car, but I’m not going to worry about driving it to go watch the game either. Don’t get overly up in arms about his minutes unless hens showing fatigue or he’s constantly playing minutes in games that are out of hand one way or the other.

  15. By the way, this is their most impressive performance of the year so far. Just total domination. Even more so than the Bucks game.

  16. Please turn into young Sabonis, Porzingis

    His ability to pass out of the post would have to be ungodly for that to happen.

    But if it did happen we’d have the best center basketball has seen in a generation.

  17. No need to worry about KP’s minutes. He’s way too smart and if he feels Fish is jeopardizing his future, he’ll just commit a few fouls and head to the bench.

  18. I’m scared to get too excited about KP’s future cause as Knick fans we are used to being letdown but my God.

  19. It seems like every game, I am more and more “wow, just wow” about the man without a nickname. He has such a unique skillset or at least a rare one.

  20. I’m scared to get too excited about KP’s future cause as Knick fans we are used to being letdown but my God.

    I know exactly how you feel. I just keep waiting for the big man foot problems to start. Or for the fame to go to his head. Or something equally disastrous.

  21. Fish would be making a strong statement if Vujacic stays on the bench for the rest of this game.

  22. We can talk about how unlucky we’ve been as a franchise for why we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves about PorzinGod. But we’ve never ever had this type of talent on our team since Ewing’s career began to ebb in the mid-1990s. This dude is a legitimate two way talent who is already the most valuable player on his team as a rookie. We haven’t seen that since Big Pat’s rookie season in 1985.

  23. Reading Nets’ blogs, almost all of the posters have positive things to say about him despite Pokezingis’ trash talk about Nets’ fans. His play and personality should be a magnet for free agents.

  24. His play and personality should be a magnet for free agents.

    People do seem to like him. He comes across naturally well with people.

  25. We’re making Mamazingis and Papazingis go back to renew their visas. Make all Zingises citizens at once! What are we waiting for? It’s a scandal!

  26. Let’s hope KD likes his former teammate Fish as much as Fish likes his former teammate Vujacic.

  27. KP misses DBL-DBL by 1 board. Leave him in Fish, forget about minutes restrictions. UPDATE: ESPN just showed he made the Dbl-Dbl.

  28. You all realize that you’re witnessing the beginnings of a top-20 of all time career, right?

  29. We can only hope so Z-man. That is a high bar. I’m not sure Reed, Frazier or Ewing are top twenty.

  30. You all realize that you’re witnessing the beginnings of a top-20 of all time career, right?

    How dare you insult him! Top 10. Bill Russell’s defense. Kareem’s sky hook. Dirk’s shooting touch. Shaq’s fashion sense.

  31. You all realize that you’re witnessing the beginnings of a top-20 of all time career, right?

    Please. He’s barely worth Nerlens Noel and a 2nd round pick.

  32. You all realize that you’re witnessing the beginnings of a top-20 of all time career, right?

    BOOM

  33. Between Porzingis, Melo, and Afflalo, the Knicks may actually have a triangle offense. It’s just that the HOFer making it work is Porzingis and not Melo.

    Porzingis is going to be unreal. I can’t wait until he realizes that he can shoot it from 30.

  34. Remember those days when some people wondered if KP might average 6 rebounds per game or per 36?

    His current per 36 minutes: 17.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks.

  35. I remember those days, oh about 3 weeks ago when I was still wondering whether the Knicks would have a consistent 2nd scoring option. Ah to be young and foolish again. Now they look like they might have 3.

    I’m getting high on the Knicks smoking terrible teams. They’ll probably roll up a fat Bucks j tomorrow too. After that I’ll be completely trapped by delusion. Ima enjoy it while it lasts though.

  36. Why can’t all our games be against the Nets/Lakers/76ers??

    Well because of the division, we do get two of those a bunch more times!

  37. I was browsing through tinder tonight and I came across a woman who had up a picture with her and the Zingularity. It is astounding how tall he is next to a regular person. She wasn’t that attractive, but I swiped right anyhow. I cant say no to Porzingis!

  38. I love that I know how DRed spends his commercial breaks

    in his mom’s basement

  39. Jowles is upset we didn’t select Nets’ Rondae in the draft; he’s rockin’ a .286 WP48 versus KP’s paltry .163.

  40. Someone needs to swipe some Zingular stem cells and get them to a knicksogenic biotech firm ASAP. The Zingularity shouldn’t be merely a nickname. It should be our collective mission. At a minimum we need a swiper, a finagler, a couple of splicers, and some circuit stichers. Who in the KB community has these critical skills?

  41. I’m not sure Reed, Frazier or Ewing are top twenty.

    @79 – I’m sure they are not. I’ve got Frazier and Ewing around 25th.

  42. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been one of the better rookies in the league this year, and has outplayed the more hyped defensive-oriented wings Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow. RHJ is two years older than those guys so that is a fairly big caveat, but he was a steal of a draft pick at #23. Even if his offensive game doesn’t develop much he’s still a productive player because of his rebounding and disruptive defense. He didn’t get to show what he can do very much in tonight’s game but he will have a nice career. He reminds me a lot of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, very similar overall skillset.

  43. RHJ was born 14 months before Justise Winslow and 16 months before Stanley Johnson. Negligible. If anything, I’d prefer to have an older rookie, so you get more of their prime during the rookie contract.

  44. You all realize that you’re witnessing the beginnings of a top-20 of all time career, right?

    you say that but you also said that Bargnani could be a good player so… idk you know?

  45. RHJ was born 14 months before Justise Winslow and 16 months before Stanley Johnson. Negligible. If anything, I’d prefer to have an older rookie, so you get more of their prime during the rookie contract.

    Yeah, now that I think about it RHJ only played two years at Arizona– I was thinking he was a full two years older because B-R lists him at age 21 while Johnson and Winslow are listed at age 19.

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