Knicks Morning News (2015.08.01)

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks sign guard Sasha Vujacic to training camp contract (Sat, 01 Aug 2015 02:16:33 GMT)

    Phil Jackson is reuniting with one of his former Lakers, agreeing with guard Sasha Vujacic to a training camp contract.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Nancy Lieberman Named Assistant for Kings (Sat, 01 Aug 2015 04:02:04 GMT)

    The Sacramento Kings hired the Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman as an assistant coach. She became the second female assistant coach to join an N.B.A. staff.

  • 53 replies on “Knicks Morning News (2015.08.01)”

    Is that Daily News article right? They dipped into the room exception to guarantee Vujacic $1.35 million?

    Vujacic’s salary seems to be minimum salary for player with his years of service. You can always fill roster spots at the league minimum so I doubt it counts against the exception.

    Hey Z-Man,
    Did you predict a win total for this year?

    I’m thinking 27 wins if KP is (only) decent and maybe .500 if he’s a ROY candidate?

    Rationale being that, without the pick there’s no incentive to tank, so we’ll see the veterans. Just Melo with a full and healthy season, I think, improves them by ten games. I really like the new role players but I don’t think we punch through to the playoffs unless Kristaps and Grant surprise a bit.

    danvt, I think that predicting a win total is going to be very tricky. 27 wins seems reasonable, given the newness of the mix and the inexperience of key rotation players like Grant, Galloway and Porzingis. I also think that lots of the weaker teams will be somewhat improved (Orlando, Boston, Charlotte, Minny, Pistons, Kings) making wins harder to come by. The playoff teams that got worse are still going to be formidable, except maybe the Nets and Blazers.

    For the Knicks to get 30+ wins, barring the unforeseen acquisition (e.g. a healthy Bynum) the following needs to happen:

    Melo needs to be healthy and play like he did in 2013-14
    Calderon needs to be healthy and play like he did on 2013-14
    Afflalo needs to be healthy and play at least as well as he did in 2013-14
    DWill needs to shoot, rebound and defend at at least around a league-average level
    O’Quinn needs to continue to develop
    Either Galloway or Grant needs to play at a better-than-league-average level
    Lopez just needs to be his usual self

    If any one of these reasonable things doesn’t happen, I can’t see us cracking 30 wins UNLESS:

    Zinger plays much better than reasonable expectations for a skinny 20-yo rookie
    Some D-Leaguer comes out of nowhere and fills a critical role
    Both Grant and Galloway perform at a high level
    DWill figures it out and becomes a stud (highly unlikely)

    If everything clicks, we could be a 40+win team, but I’d take the under on that bet right now.

    Last year, preseason games were very telling. It was clear vs. Milwaukee that we had too many one-way players, no rim protection and no athleticism. This year, we may not know until 20 games in what we really have.

    Vegas has the over-under at 31.5, which is probably a fair number.

    27 wins is very pessimistic and we could suffer an injury to melo and conceivably still over shoot that win total easily…..

    right now i have us somewhere in the 36-42 range… and i’m kind of skewing us towards 39-40…. that’s if we get good health and if we get reasonable contributions from the rooks and galloway….

    if we don’t get good health or if fisher wants to torpedo our season… if anyone from our 11-15 approaches 1000 minutes then we’re obviously in a lot of trouble… if the rooks don’t see less than 1500 minutes then we’re more in the 32-36 win range…

    The last time this team surprised pleasantly was 18-3 in 2013, right? Sheed had the run of vintage play. JKidd hadn’t lost (all) of his quickness. Then it all came back to earth with a huge thud. Good season but we we’ve been .500 or (way) worse ever since. That was smoke and mirrors. Maybe this year, KP and Grant et al., fill those roles and it becomes sustainable. I would really love the haters to eat a big fat shit sandwich one of these years!

    Couple of more questions if you’re here this morning: Do you see Rolo maybe taking his game to a new level? I haven’t watched him play much. Do you see him as more of a two way player with NYK?

    Also, for the life of me I can’t understand what the Sacramento Kings are doing and why anyone might call it win now mode?


    blockquote>if the rooks don’t see less than 1500 minutes then we’re more in the 32-36 win range…

    Right, that’s sort of what I’m thinking. Just having average NBA players out on the floor means ten more wins. Then we need to have won with the draft picks. I just don’t want to get my hopes up to high. I had high hopes 2005 when we drafted Lee, Robinson, and Channing Frye and got LB to coach but that all went to shit so quick. If we had just developed Matt Barnes and Trevor Ariza along with that core… damn. The difference this time, hopefully, is that the veterans we’re bringing in are high character guys on shorter deals. Robin Lopez is almost a lock to have a better career in a Knick uniform than Eddy Curry. Plus, Melo for all his faults is not Stephon Marbury and the team will most likely not employ draft picks for bandaids (Steve Francis) this year with Phil there.

    I haven’t seen him play much either, but have looked at lots of analysis. My guess is that RoLo pretty much is what he is, but that’s a good thing! If he can give us a .600+ TS% at a usage in the high teens, he’ll be worth a few extra wins by himself. He’s exactly the kind of C that Melo, Calderon, Afflalo and Derrick need to play with. He truly seems to be the consummate team player, caring nothing for his own stats. He does lots of little things that don’t show up in his own stats, like boxing out, setting good screens, and blowing up plays in the paint just with good rotational positioning, that makes other players better. So I doubt that Fisher tries to change his game very much, aside from a few more opportunities in the post.

    I would expect a less mobile (especially defensively away from the basket, Lopez’s big red flag) and more physical version of Chandler (i.e Lopez is not getting backed down by Hibbert.) He is also much more chill than Tyson and therefore less likely to go at it with refs (only 13 tech fouls in last 4 years) compared with for Chandler (40 techs in the last 4 years). Clyde, who never got a tech in his career, said it best: why waste energy arguing with refs? they’re not gonna change the call anyway! So the overall impact on wins should be pretty similar, with the caveat that Chandler would be more effective vs. small lineups than Lopez, and that’s the trend right now.

    I’m basing W-L totals on how I think we match up with other teams. Right now, we are relatively weak in the backcourt. The league is a backcourt-dominant league right now. Grant is a rookie, and rookie PGs, even 4-year ones, don’t usually fare too well, especially defensively. The league, especially the East, is also getting faster and more athletic. Teams like Orlando, Milwaukee, Boston, and Detroit are way more athletic than we are in our top 7 players. Lopez, Melo, Calderon and O’Quinn will have a hard time beating these teams down the floor when they get into transition, and even Afflalo is not the athlete he once was. That puts a lot of pressure on Porzingis and Grant (not to mention Galloway) to develop quickly, and makes it likely that guys like Thomas, Thanasis and other 1-way players will need to see more time. Not to beat a dead horse, but I saw potential in Ndour to be very effective as a 2-way small lineup uptempo player, which we desperately need.

    The main reason I see for optimism is that this is a high-IQ, high effort bunch. Whatever their shortcomings (skill, experience, athleticism), my hope is that they will embrace the challenge individually and collectively. It will be interesting to see whether the head games Jackson is known for will work on Melo.

    RoLo did carry a usg of 20% in N.O. He also did it earlier in Phx but he played less than 1000 minutes that year. Maybe RoLo just adapts his game to fit his team?

    His best season was at a Usg% of 14. In fact, there is an inverse correlation between his usage and WS48.

    The East is a lot tougher this year, at least in the top 8-10 teams. Predicting total wins this season should be hard. I will say this long as Melo is healthy and playing his game- we have a puncher’s chance. That said, it probably will take some playoff contender having to deal with a key injury or a few rotation player injuries for our Knicks to get the most likely 40 or so requisite wins to get into the postseason. If we stay healthy, I believe the team can do it. But Fish has to take some serious cues from Larry Brown’s EC champion Sixers. Melo of course would be in the AI role while the vets have to play better than average D and knock down shots when they get opportunities. If we get that and solid play from Porzingis and Grant, then we will have a pretty good season. Nobody should expect Calderon to play better than average D, but a return to health and his typical level of shooting should be good enough.

    Also..I kinda believe that Brooklyn has a good shot at the playoffs even without D Will. If Lopez stays healthy of course. I think a perpetually injured and ineffective D WIll held them back last season. If Lopez stays healthy, Jarret Jack should be able to step right in and give them solid play at the PG spot while Joe Johnson can play more to his strengths without D Will using a lot of possessions. Watch out for them. I don’t think that they’ll be really good, but a healthy Lopez and better play in the backcourt will do a lot for them. Plus, I don’t really think D Will and Iso-Joe were compatible on offense.

    I’m pegging the Knicks at 30-35 wins. The team does not have any real overwhelming strengths– the frontcourt defense should be good, and if Melo is healthy they’ll have a reliable #1 scoring option. On the flip side, perimeter defense looks questionable, rebounding looks questionable, depth looks questionable. Perimeter shooting does not appear to be a strength.

    As someone who is on the record as being perfectly willing to criticize stupid shit the Knicks do, I actually don’t mind the Vujacic signing. I mean yeah, it’s hilarious from a Knicksy perspective, but I could see a scenario where he carves out some usefulness. He was a rotation level player pretty much every year when he was healthy. Of course, that was four years ago, but his skill set isn’t really the type that you’d expect to see harshly decline at age 31. He’s career 37% 3PT shooter at a sizable volume and even shot 44% once. Maybe he can be Novak. I dunno.

    My preference would still be to roll the dice on someone like Khem Birch (and to be fair the Saunders and Atkins deals are in that mold), but it’s pretty clear that’s not in the cards and I can’t think of any veteran types lying around that I’d rather have. Maybe he doesn’t make it out of camp and this is all irrelevant, but in my estimation they could’ve done a lot worse.

    RE: My last post
    I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Brooklyn ends up with a better record than Dallas. That bein said..the Knicks better play D and buy in to what Phil and Fish are preachin. I can’t deal with 2 straight seasons of the Nets outplaying us.

    If anyone happens to be near a tv, put on espn. Sweetney must weigh 400 pounds, no exaggeration.

    The Knicks will be giving most of the rotation minutes to these players:

    5 of those guys are at least NBA average, and the latter four listed could be anywhere from stud to stiff, so I think the season is contingent upon two things; the health of the first five listed players and the production we get from our gambles.

    I think they’ll win 25-30. Even with those low expectations, I’m looking forward to seeing the Knicks hustle and to seeing the rookies develop. In addition to Anthony’s health I think Grant’s development could be a key to whether they exceed those low expectations. If he can penetrate and keep others from penetrating (very puritan sounding), and make enough 3s and long 2s to keep defenders from sagging off him into the paint, I think he might develop into a decent starting PG by next year. A PG who’s decent on both ends and can run the break would open up a lot of possibilities. Not world-beating possibilities but expectation-beating possibilities. In particular, I think Porzingis, Lopez, and Williams all have strong potential as PnR roll partners if Grant can hold up his end. Assuming Afflalo and Vujacic (blech, hrluch, patoowy, splech) can be reasonable floor spacers, there might be genuinely workable options beyond walk it up, pass, pass, pass, pass iso, which would be very exciting.

    How about this scenario?

    Assuming Vujecic makes the team, I’d like to see the final 2 spots on the roster go to Atkins and Thanasis. My thinking is at the end of the bench, we should have guys who can play and defend multiple positions. In Thanasis, we have a guy who is aggressive and athletic on the defensive end, and he can guard 1’s through 3’s and offensively play the 2 and 3. A lot of people say the Knicks need another C, but I’m not sure how big of a need that is. We already have 3 guys who can play both big spots on the bench in Porzingis, O’Quinn and Amundson- providing that Williams starts at one of the forward spots. Atkins is only 6’8″, but he’s strong and has a 7 foot wingspan. So he can theoretically defend taller 4’s and some 5’s if we go small. A healthy Bynum on the cheap is tempting, but I’m not so sure Phil should sign him now. One reason is that if he’s healthy, he’s gonna take minutes away from Porzingis, and I expect him to play both PF and C. The second reason is Melo. Having Melo on your team truly is a marriage. You know how they say ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’? If Melo doesn’t like you, he won’t play very well with you. And given Bynum’s past ‘personality issues’, I really don’t see he and Melo meshing very well. See, with Melo, you have to have talent, play hard, and he has to like you. He’s not the star that’s comfortable saying “I don’t care if we get along, you better bring it every night’. So..Happy Melo, Happy Jell Yo. All of Phil’s signings have been character guys who have talent and are expected to play hard based on their rep. Williams is questionable, but for the most part, they are lunch pail guys that Melo would like as well. I would only consider Bynum as an emergency option in case one of our bigs go down. But skillwise, Bynum does bring a lot to the table. I just don’t think he’s a good teammate considering his recent history. Plus his knees might just be worse than STAT’s.

    “Knicks aren’t winning less than 37 -40 games with a healthy roster
    Last year was an extreme anomaly and the team is completely different”

    er, yes, the roster is different, but with even more question marks due to inexperience and health. And we have no “real” depth so if either Melo or Lopez go down, we’re the second or third worst team in the East, and if any other veteran goes down, it totally depends on how the likes of Zinger, Grant and Williams play. Winning 40 games would be a huge accomplishment. It is more realistic to think that this team is built for a playoff run in 2016-17.

    Is it reasonable to expect a healthy roster? I don’t expect Calderon to stay healthy all season. Even if Anthony’s knee is better, will he be healthy in the sense of playing like peak Anthony? Will Lopez stay healthy all season? Even if the answer to all those is”yes”, they’re still largely a group of decentish guys talentwise whose success will be affected by: lots of rookie pt, time needed for new system to be learned by new guys under a newish coach, little rebounding, suspect D, not a lot of obvious secondary scoring options, thin back court, etc. But in any case, though I assume we might expect them to have better injury luck than last season, I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that they all stay healthy.

    Look at the Knicks record in 2012 and 2011. They won over 50% of the games with players like Toney Douglas and Landry fields n bill walker on the squad. 45% of games is 37 games. None of these were particularly good teams.

    I have a humble request of the esteemed mamaZingis. Please post reports on KB of the liters per day of aukst biešu zupa (cold beetroot soup) and kilo’s per day of piragi’s that Kristaps is being happily force fed while home for the summer. I know she is on our team and won’t let us down, but news of his progress would still be reassuring.

    Look at the Knicks record in 2012 and 2011. They won over 50% of the games with players like Toney Douglas and Landry fields n bill walker on the squad. 45% of games is 37 games. None of these were particularly good teams.

    Well first of all it’s a little difficult to tell what NBA seasons you’re referring to. It’s irrelevant though because no matter what teams you’re talking about, there is exactly one player from them who is still on the current team. So it’s hard to argue that those teams’ success or failure has any bearing on the team now.

    I put the Over/Under on wins this season at 36

    A presumably healthy Melo, Rolo & O’Quinn, Grant plays at least average point guard, they get a little out of Calderon and Zinger, and no incentive to tank

    I also think that the NBA has improved since then. Lots of good, young talent has come into the league, and thankfully there has not been any expansion. Guard play is definitely better than it was back then, and we are very vulnerable there. Objectively, 18 of 30 teams are better than us on paper right now (10 in WC, 8 in EC), meaning that on paper, we are better than 11 of the other 29 teams. If you multiply 82 games times 11/29, you get 31 wins, which is the Vegas number pretty much on the nose. I think that’s a very fair number

    @29 2011 is the year of the Melo trade 42-40

    2012 linsanity 36-30

    @30 I agree with that o/u

    @31 the nba east hasn’t improved at all. Theres Lebrons team then everyone else. Just as it has been for the past 7 years

    To bring in a healthy dose of pessimism, if people think that the Knicks are going to make the playoffs, please list the seven teams in the East who will be worse than the Knicks

    @33 Agreed, but there are more teams in the mix in 2015: Toronto, Milwaukee and Washington are good, young, deep, athletic playoff teams. Chicago, Atlanta and Miami are still very good and deep. Boston, Orlando, Charlotte and Detroit have lots of good young guys on the rise. Indiana and the Nets are worse, but Philly and the Knicks are better.

    The point is, take the Cavs out of the mix and the East is much more balanced than it was in 2010. The weest goes 12 teams deep with playoff caliber teams and only Denver, Portland and maybe the Lakers are truly lousy. I think that 35 wins are going to be hard for the Knicks to come by.

    If all goes right for us and wrong for some other teams, we could be duking it out with Orlando, Detroit and Boston for the 8th seed, but that’s a stretch.

    @29 2011 is the year of the Melo trade 42-40

    2012 linsanity 36-30

    So what I previously said applies in a major way. There is literally one player on the current team who was on those, so what bearing do they have?

    I’m not comparing this team to any of those. My point is you don’t have to be that good to win 35+ games. Healthy Melo is a top 4 player in the east at the very most. You are saying “they have one player” like he’s some sort of pedestrian ass player

    Top 4 definitely er. I’d even go as far to say that when healthy, Melo is the 2nd best player in the East- tied with a healthy Rose if not better by a smidgen. I’m not a Melo apologist, but I’m no dummy either. Even with his flaws, Melo is a very good player. When he’s on, there may not be a better player to watch on offense. The thing that sucks about being in the EC is damn near all the truly elite players are in the West. The East has a few on the cusp and several really good players. Still, I do think the East has grown in the past few seasons. And the top 6 or 7 in the East are or should be really good teams. Good enough to give the WC teams problems and even beat a few of them in a series.

    I’m not comparing this team to any of those. My point is you don’t have to be that good to win 35+ games. Healthy Melo is a top 4 player in the east at the very most. You are saying “they have one player” like he’s some sort of pedestrian ass player

    Melo’s team won 5 of the 40 games he played in last season. Suffice to say his presence alone guarantees very little. That’s not really a knock on him, as there are very few players whose presence guarantees a whole lot on its own. It’s just true that this team could very easily win less than 30 games.

    True, but Melo was also hurt during the second game of the season, which happened to be a big win in Cleveland.

    Any word on Eric Moreland who was waived by Sac 3 days ago? Did anybody pick him up?

    Healthy Rose, i.e. MVP Rose, even if he didn’t deserve that MVP, was significantly better than Melo has ever been. I highly doubt we’ll ever see that Rose again though. The Rose we have seen recently is a far cry from prime Melo, and while I could see him improving back to all-star level, I don’t see him ever being more than 13/14 Melo.

    As far as where Melo ranks in the east goes, Paul George has the best chance IMO of passing Melo, but for now, yeah, he probably is the 2nd best guy in the east.

    I think 36 wins is generous for an over/under. The Knicks basically have two players who are even arguably top 15 at their position. Kyle O’Quinn — a 17 MPG player on a lotto team — probably has the best chance of being the best player off the bench.

    The 11/12 Knicks that went 36-30 had 29 year old DPOY Chandler, 27 year old Melo… Just the talent at the top absolutely dwarfs the talent at the top of these Knicks. 31 year old Melo coming off surgery is highly unlikely to produce like healthy 27 year old Melo. RoLo is nowhere near what Tyson Chandler was that year.

    As far as the supporting casts go, Shumpert coming off the surgery was a huge weak point and probably cost the knicks a few wins on his own. But beyond that, I don’t see much of a difference in talent. Grant and Porzingis are unlikely to be league average players. Few rookies are. The rest of that 11/12 team is full of guys who played big for short periods, so it’s hard to judge, but between Stoudemire, Lin, Novak, JR Smith, Fields and Jared Jeffries, there were some moments of competence. Even if you give the 15/16 Knicks’ supporting cast a few extra wins, the discrepancy with top talent costs them well more than that.

    This team doesn’t have much upside. Jackson filled the roster largely with known players, so we’re going to get the mediocrity he wants this year and then I guess pray that FAs will pick the Knicks over the 25 other teams with max money next summer.

    If all goes right for us and wrong for some other teams, we could be duking it out with Orlando, Detroit and Boston for the 8th seed, but that’s a stretch.

    I think that that is a very fair look at things. They are unlikely to make the playoffs this year, but they have a chance, since the fringe teams are very fringe-y. I also agree with anyone who thinks that Zinger and Grant will be a big part of whether that happens or not.

    Who would yal rather see on the team- Vujecic or a healthy Landry Fields? Fields, when healthy, moves well without the ball, rebounds well at his position, and can play both wing spots. Vujecic, on the other hand, knows the triangle, shoots better from deep, and has a better track record but we haven’t seen him in a while plus he sucked like Fields did the past 2 seasons the last time he was in the league. It looks even to me. The only advantage Fields has is he’s younger and theoretically can get healthier and better.

    As far as where Melo ranks in the east goes, Paul George has the best chance IMO of passing Melo, but for now, yeah, he probably is the 2nd best guy in the east.

    I would also say that Wade, disregarding injuries, is a better player than Melo ever was.

    Although Melo at 31 coming from a season ending surgery doesn’t have this advantage anymore.

    As far as where Melo ranks in the east goes, Paul George has the best chance IMO of passing Melo, but for now, yeah, he probably is the 2nd best guy in the east.

    2nd best what in the East? Player? Are you serious? Maybe 2nd highest salary (or #1?) but he’s not even close to the best players in the East.

    To be fair the East is pretty talent barren, but yeah I see no argument for Melo over LeBron (which was conceded), Love, Butler, Whiteside, and probably Kyrie. There are other guys in the East I’d take over Melo as well, especially given the contract, those are just the no-brainers to me.

    Yeah but the 11/12 Knicks had a lot of problems. Tyson was great but Melo was not that great until after Dantoni left. And STAT was not playing great most of that year too. Then outside of those 3, you didn’t have much (rookie Shump, Bibby, Fields, etc). That team got better and better as the year wore on but was basically 3 different teams. The first team was STAT, Melo and Chandler with literally no one else on the team. Then you had the Linsanity team (Lin, Chandler, Shump, Novak)…then you had the post Dantoni team…which was Chandler and Melo and Shump with JR, Novak, Baron Davis, etc.

    The only constant that year was Chandler.

    Here’s a list of players I’d rather have had last season than Carmelo.

    Chris Paul
    Durant (injured or not)
    Tyson Chandler
    Rudy Gobert
    Anthony Davis
    Hassan Whiteside
    Jimmy Butler
    DeAndre Jordan
    Blake Griffin
    George Hill
    Kawhi Leonard
    Tim Duncan (even ancient)
    Tristan Thompson
    Kyle Korver
    Dray Green
    Andre Drummond
    Greg Monroe
    Jared Dudley
    Eric Bledsoe
    Harrison Barnes
    Al-Farouq Aminu
    DeMarre Carroll
    John Wall
    Andrew Bogut
    Cory Joseph
    Nic Batum
    Kyrie Irving
    Wes Mattews (with 1 functional Achilles)
    Omer Asik
    Dwight Howard
    James Harden
    Pau Gasol
    Tony Allen
    Greek Freak

    The East is weird. There really is a dearth of great individual players in the East. I think I probably would have Melo roughly in the top five, but that’s more a shot at the rest of the East than anything, and I think that a number of other players would have a good argument to have that #5 spot instead of Melo. But sure, he’s right up at the top of the East (when healthy and playing like he did his last few healthy seasons – that three point shot changed his game dramatically for the better). He’a a very good player.

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