2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks @ Magic

The Knicks travel to Orlando to take on a fairly mediocre Magic team that did manage to make the playoffs last season (and who won just one less game against the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs as the Golden State Warriors). In fact, they actually won their division last season, which is kind of hilarious, since that means we actually came vaaaaaguely close to a scenario where a division winner would have missed the playoffs (not really all that likely since teams #9-11 in the Eastern Conference were also in the same division as the Magic). Up until 2015, division winners were guaranteed to make the playoffs, but they dropped that rule then, which is good.

Anyhow, Wayne Ellington moves into the starting lineup, which is good, because he really does help with spacing a lot. While RJ Barrett has quickly become the engine that drives the team, spacing has been a major concern, as well, with the Knicks really relying on Ellington and Kevin Knox a lot to space the floor for their less competent outside shooters.

With Elfrid Payton out for the game, Barrett is the point guard for the Knicks by default, but I imagine we’ll see Frank Ntilikina get some minutes tonight, as well. The Magic, with their defense-minded coach, Steve Clifford (it’s interesting how other teams have coaches who put systems into place – I don’t even like Clifford that much as a coach since he strikes me as a bit stubborn with his views of players, but he obviously knows how to work a system and get more than the sum of his parts with it), was a team that was rumored to have interest in Frank last year before they ended up acquiring Markelle Fultz for a super discounted rate and watching how Fultz plays will be another interesting thing about tonight’s game.

The Knicks could actually start thinking about .500 with a win tonight, so let’s hope that they pull it off.

Let’s go, Knicks!

2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Bulls

Somehow, the Knicks haven’t started a season 0-4 since Larry Brown was the coach and they won 23 games on route to watching the Chicago Bulls draft LaMarcus Aldridge with the Knicks’ first round pick (thank goodness the Bulls then moronically traded Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas. It would have been way too hard to watch that Bulls team have both Aldridge and Joakim Noah from Knicks picks paired with Derrick Rose).

I would imagine that they’re going to avoid an 0-4 start this season, as well, as the Knicks host the Bulls tonight and the Bulls are not particularly good, either, so you would typically give the edge to the home team in this situation.

The Knicks’ starting lineup remains the same (thank goodness Fizdale is committed to a consistent and logical starting lineup), but the rotation is off due to Dennis Smith Jr. leaving the team due to the sudden death of his stepmother. Our condolences to the Smith family. Frank Ntilikina will be the back-up point guard tonight, so expect Elfrid Payton to play 47 minutes.

In other sad Knick news, former Knick GM Al Bianchi passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 87. Bianchi helped build the early 1990s Knicks squad, finding diamonds in the rough like John Starks and Anthony Mason and making the excellent Charles Oakley/Bill Cartwright trade (less well known about that trade is that the Knicks and Bulls swapped first round picks in the deal, with the Knicks going from #11 to #19, where the Knicks took Rod Strickland. The Strickland pick technically worked out, as he was a very good NBA player, but they dumped him in his second season due to him complaining about his minutes). RIP, Al!

The Bulls matchup looks like a particularly good one for RJ Barrett, so I expect another strong performance from the rookie. I hope the Knicks play Mitchell Robinson more minutes tonight. Just let him foul out if need be. Let him learn from his actions.

Let’s go, Knicks!

NY Post: RJ Barrett already showing he’s ‘stud’ Knicks hoped for

Marc Berman is as pumped up about RJ Barrett as us!

RJ Barrett has done everything but win in his first three NBA games.

After a strong preseason, Barrett has been even better in the regular season because he’s even hitting his 3-point shots — not just muscling to the hoop with great body control and inside shot-making flair.

Barrett has achieved an impressive three-game milestone. The 6-foot-7 sniper and only one other player in NBA history have tallied at least 60 points and 15 rebounds and notched five 3-pointers in their first three games. That other player is Kevin Durant.

The third pick in the draft is now the Knicks leading scorer, averaging 21 points.

“He’s a stud,” coach David Fizdale said. “That’s the only way I can put it. He’s a stud.”

As I noted in the Celtics game, it’s remarkable how quickly it’s gotten to the point where the team sort of falls apart when Barrett is not on the court. That’s a huge statement about the 19-year-old (and also about the rest of the Knicks roster, but let’s look on the bright side here).

2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks vs. A Team That Willingly Signed Enes Kanter to Start For Them – THE HOME OPENER!

The Knicks host the Boston Celtics in their 2019-20 home opener. Sadly, the much-maligned Enes Kanter will not be playing tonight due to a nagging injury, and at this precise moment, I’m not even sure who WILL be starting for the Celtics at center, as Kanter’s backup, Daniel Theis, also got banged up in the Celtics last game. I assume it’ll still be Theis, but it could get freaky if he’s hurt, too. Maybe Robert Williams III?

Anyhow, since the Celtics are basically the same team as Team USA in the FIBA World Cup (and Dennis Smith’s shot looks like someone just keeps on hitting him in the elbow with a crowbar every time he shoots the ball), you would think that Frank Ntilikina would get some burn tonight. You would think that, but this is David Fizdale we’re talking about. Who the heck knows what will happen?

At least the starting lineup is the same. It’s a really quite adequate starting lineup.

The Celtics have been known to look past teams and fall apart, so coupled with this being the Knicks’ home opener and the fans should be really into it, I think the Knicks could pull this out, which would be awesome, because wins are fun and wins over the Celtics are doubly fun.

Let’s go, Knicks!

2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks @ the Brooklyn Kyries

It’s the second game of the season and Fizdale’s starting lineup actually makes sense!

Elfrid Payton will start at the point alongside RJ Barrett, with Marcus Morris and Julius Randle paired with Mitchell Robinson returning from an injury to take the starting center spot. I knew Fizdale couldn’t be so dumb as to start Portis over Mitch (well, okay, I was pretty sure).

That’s the most competent Knick starting lineup in YEARS!

It’ll be interesting seeing the Brooklyn Kyries in action. If Minnesota could beat them, the Knicks can beat them!

Let’s go, Knicks!

2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks @ Spurs – THE SEASON BEGINS!

So, the Knicks held off on naming their starting lineup for tonight’s game until practically right before game time and…well…it was a doozy.

To quote bobneptune from this morning, when the rumor was that they were going to start Alonzo Trier in the backcourt with RJ Barrett and also start Bobby Portis at center, he noted, “If Fiz is going to start trier with MR possibly out, isn’t it far more likely he will play Randle as the small ball 5, Morris at his more natural 4 and RJ at 3 with Trier at 2 and whomever starts at the 1???

But nahhhh…. Berman has to infer Fiz is going to do some off the wall shit on day one which is sure to piss off half the roster.”

Well….it seems like Fiz is doing some off the wall shit on day one which is sure to piss off half the roster.

Which is fun.

It is Trier and Barrett in the backcourt and Portis, Randle and Morris in the frontcourt.

Barrett apparently is nominally the point guard for the team, which is something.

But hey, it’s official, real live NBA action and until it doesn’t work, it is probably best to root that this all comes together. The Spurs aren’t exactly worldbeaters over there, so this could be a winnable game (it would be more so if Robinson played, of course, but hey, what are ya gonna do?).

So I will start the season off rooting for them to pull off the win and win as many games as possible.

So let’s go, Knicks!

NY Post: Knicks decide contract fate of Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr.

I figured we should get up a thread for this relatively big news. From Marc Berman:

The Knicks on Monday picked up the fourth-year options on point guards Frank Ntilikina ($6.3 million) and Dennis Smith Jr. ($5.6 million) for the 2020-21 season. They also picked up the third-year 2020-21 option on Kevin Knox.

The Post reported over the weekend the Knicks would make their decision on Ntilikina before the season opener to eliminate any distractions. With the deadline for a decision on Oct. 31, that seemed to signal their decision was leaning toward the positive.

While that’s a whole lot of money for a guy who’s done nothing in the NBA so far, the Knicks don’t really need the cap room next year, so it’s probably worth the shot.

And the DSJ and Knox pick-ups for obvious.

The “How Many Wins Will The Knicks Win In 2019-20?” Prediction Thread

Okay folks, it’s that time of year again! How many wins do you think that the Knicks will win this season?

I’m going to stick with my go-to answer of “Whatever the worst amount of wins would be,” so I’m going with 36. Not enough to make the playoffs, but too much to trade any of the veterans for picks and too much to not pick up the options for all their free agents and then just punt this thing one year further down the line while adding the #8 pick in the draft.

How about you folks?

Knicks vs. Pelicans, Final Preseason Game

The Zion-less Pelicans come to New York for the final preseason game. The problem I’m having with the preseason is that I don’t even know if the guys they’re playing in the preseason matter one way or the other. So what does any of it really matter?

Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve been here long enough, you’ll know that I’ve been rocking “Preseason is meaningless” for years now, so I never take much from it, but it seems ESPECIALLY meaningless now with how Fizdale’s been weaving players in and out of the rotation.

I assume he’ll just pick a few names out of a hat for the first real game of the season.

SNY.com: Sources: There’s been early grumbling among some Knicks about role with the team

Ian Begley with some tea:

Fizdale cautioned not too overvalue his starting lineup on opening night. He will tweak minutes and roles based on performance.

“(Lineups) are not set in stone just because we’re getting out of preseason,” the coach said. “That thing can always be a revolving door because these guys are so competitive. From one week to the next, it can be a different guy. And I want them to stay on edge like that.”

Particularly in the backcourt and wing positions, Fizdale has plenty of options. He’s been starting RJ Barrett at shooting guard ahead of Wayne Ellington, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson. (Trier didn’t play on Wednesday but will play with the second unit on Friday).

At small forward/wing, Fizdale has started Marcus Morris ahead of Kevin Knox II.

No matter who he plays on a given night, there will be several players left out of the rotation who came into the season expecting to play. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that, per SNY sources, there has already been some grumbling about minutes/roles.

Players not being thrilled about their minutes/roles is pretty common in the NBA. All coaches/teams deal with it to a certain degree. But the idea that the Knicks have so many players who – from the outside at least – can make a case for a spot in the rotation makes this something to keep an eye on.

If you’re grumbling about playing time in preseason, then you either A. should buy a clue if you were one of the guys who were already here like Trier or B. should buy a clue and not sign here if you were one of the 52 mediocre veterans who signed here at the same time.