Greetings and salutations, ‘Bocker brethren. No, the Knicks were not able to escape Mill-ee-wa-kée with a noble, spirited dub-ya, but don’t let that get you down—yet. Next up: A frisky pack o’ Wolves in the great state of Minnesota. What better way to limber up for the ritualistic, 11 o’clock assumption of the fetal position than a gentlemanly to-and-fro with Zachary Bennett. He’s a big wheel over at Canis Hoopus, SBNation’s Minnesota Timberwolves blog. Though the Knicks have, at times, resembled fifty shades of macabre more so than a geometrically sound basketball team, I hope you’ll find this exchange as enjoyable as we did.
Realistically, where do you see the Knicks finishing the season? Is there a best and worst case scenario?
Ugh. It’s tough to hold an especially rosy disposition about the prospects of the regular season proper, but that’s not to say that the Knicks can’t (or won’t) take anything away from it. As intoxicating as it can be to watch Carmelo Anthony unleash all hell upon opponents, engrossing fans in a one-man show—seriously, watch this and tell me you didn’t just get a lil’ misty-eyed—the Knicks need to look beyond the horizon. Without doubt the “worst” case scenario is mediocrity, to win just enough games to damage your dalliance with the Ping-Pong balls, only to wind up squarely in basketball purgatory.
Let’s be clear, too: Derek Fisher kvelling about “East” and “big” in one sentence is a little more than a Freudian slip. The well of Woody-isms is a plentiful one, and ‘Fish’ managed to extract a mighty good’n.
Here’s the full quote from Derek Fisher, on why he’s reluctant to consider Carmelo his full-time starting PF: pic.twitter.com/MN01CyQR01
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 19, 2014
Best? Iman Shumpert tippy-toes along his current form line, slowly progressing into the more rounded two-way force that some have long anticipated; José Calderon gels seamlessly with ‘Melo, and clicks some geometric variety of offense into gear; Fisher fosters a healthy rapport with the team’s key long-term cogs, and the Knicks fall right into the meaty part of the 24-32 win range. Plop yourself into the ol’ lottery mix, and who knows how the #sporps gods will look down on the team’s rep on the dais of shame.
And what of your Wolves, Zach? Has this ‘Flip’ fellow once again endeared himself to Minnesotans? Are 30-plus point losses nauseating, par for the course, or both?
Flip Saunders is a name most know, and some trust, but it’s only fair to give him credit for not fumbling the Kevin Love situation during the offseason. He put together a pretty good group of young pups – i’m so, so sorry – and savvy veterans, before signing Ricky Rubio to an extension in early November.
In theory, the Wolves were ready to surprise some people this season – this was the vibe around the locker room, anyway. However, when the season started, everyone would be watching to see how Flip would manage his players; would he hinder the development of Andrew Wiggins? When was Zach LaVine going to get playing time? Is Nikola Pekovic capable of playing more than 60 games? How will his minutes be managed?
Basketball minds have tipped their proverbial cap in approval to Flip Saunders: President of Basketball Operations. That much is certain.
As for Flip Saunders; the Head Coach, inserting Zach LaVine into the starting lineup – after Ricky Rubio suffered a sprained ankle – was a bold statement that worked in his favor to appease the locals.
However, Britt Robson of MinnPost, a renowned Wolves scribe, thinks the Wolves weren’t just bad against New Orleans. They were disgraceful.
And he’s correct.
With Rubio sidelined and Thad Young out for an indefinite amount of time due to the death of his mother, mentorship responsibilities were bestowed to Kevin Martin, Mo Williams and Corey Brewer, who did not relish in the opportunity. To be fair, Corey Brewer played with the same energy we’ve seen throughout his career.
However, if the rumors reported by Marc Stein are true, Flip Saunders is currently – as we speak, maybe – shopping Brewer to a competitor. Is this parting with an influence that can render a unique, positive impact on the younger players? Maybe. Will it make or break the development of guys like Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Glenn Robinson III?
I doubt it.
All in all, Flip’s done a good job, his feelings about players shooting three-pointers notwithstanding.
Speaking of veteran leadership and currency in the locker room… Flip made the decision that, for one reason or another, it better suited the Wolves to pawn off the rights to Miami’s 2015 first round pick for Thad Young. If anybody is familiar with the idea of mortgaging a future asset for a present one, it’s Knicks fans. Where did you stand at the moment of that trade? Has your opinion wavered at all in the three months since?
After trading Kevin Love, the Wolves were left with approximately zero power forwards. Had they not swapped the Heat’s draft selection, which they received from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wolves would have started either Robbie Hummel, Anthony Bennett or Glenn Robinson III at the 4 spot.
Yea. Robinson III, a rookie, isn’t even a power forward. Hummel and Bennett are, essentially, perennial backups – Bennett has a bit more upside – so it was essential for the Wolves to land Thad Young if they were going to part with Love.
Thad Young will miss an undetermined amount of games tending to family matters. His mother passed away last week.
He’s been great! Young seems to score 20 points per game on a nightly basis. Moreover, it’s his character and charisma that has impressed me the most. He knows his role is to play hard at both ends of the floor and, thus far, he’s been nothing but a positive example for the younger players to look up to. At least as far as I can tell.
Thad could elect to forgo his player option for next season and test the market as a free agent. Otherwise, he’s slotted to make $9,971,739 in ‘15-’16 and would become an Unrestricted Free Agent in the summer prior to the ‘17-’18 season. For now, he’s here to start at power forward and help his teammates “get better” – two words Flip Saunders uses alllll the time.
So, no, my opinion has not altered since the trade was consummated. In fact, as it stands now, Thad is the second-most important player received in the Love trade. I hadn’t even thought about the aforementioned draft selection until you mentioned it just now.
JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony. There’s Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni and Minnesota Native Cole Aldrich….that’s all I got.
Who the hell else is even on the Knicks?
With what parts must Derek Fisher try to implement Phil Jackson’s renowned Triangle Offense? And how’s that working for them?
I’m on the record as a Jose Calderon fan, for one thing, but you’re right in terms of the cupboard being pretty, pretty, pretty bare. Pretty bare. I’ll leave the bishophood of the First Church of Cole Aldrich to Señor Silverman.
Other than that, unless you’re really high on Lane Sharkin or Cleanthony Early, there ain’t a whole lot going on here. I don’t fancy Derek Fisher’s chances of plugging Travis Wear into the lineup and letting him run riot in the pinch-post.
Fisher is privy to a bunch of flotsam, expiring deals, one transcendent talent, and not a great deal in between.
There have been fleeting moments of competency, little snippets of something resembling a three-sided shape, but unless there’s some resilience on the opposite end, the role of the Triangle Offense in steering the Knicks to wins (this season) is more or less a moot point.
Nonetheless, for tonight, that Melo-plus-Shump-plus-Earl-plus-Pablo-plus-scrapheap formula may well be enough. Tell me, Zach: Minnesota are favored by 1.5. On that basis, which side of the coin do you find yourself on?
Tonight’s game against the Knicks will be the Wolves best chance to win until November 28th, that’s when they play the Lakers. Does that mean a victory is imminent? Certainly………not for the home team, though.
It’d be nice to think the Wolves are catching the Knicks on a tail end of a back-to-back, which they are. However, it remains to be seen how well Andrew Wiggins can contain Carmelo Anthony – if at all. A deep bench gives Flip Saunders a lot of chess pieces to play with, but the story lately has been his team’s inability to defend.
If Carmelo gets going, and the Knicks get competency from the scrubs, it could be another long night for Wolves fans. Part of the dilemma when predicting a winner in this one has been the Knicks inconsistency: I don’t believe either of us knows which team will show up.
The Wolves are on a three-year plan. So, thankfully, unlike last season, a sub .500 year will not doom the franchise into a horrific situation. Therefore, tonight, I’m able to sit back, relax and just take everything in, because the outcome of tonight’s game won’t ultimately make-or-break the ‘14-’15 season.
Away you go. OH? I won’t get away without predicting a score.