Knicks 94, Lakers 80. What I’m Thinking…

What others saw:
Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points to lead the Knicks to victory. In Anthony’s last 6 games, New York has won 5. Is Carmelo putting this team on his back and willing them forward? All signs point to yes!

What I’m thinking:
He scored 31 points, but in how many minutes? Almost 34? Ok that’s about 35 more than he should have played. The two most important things to the near future of this franchise is Carmelo Anthony’s health and the pick they get this year. Playing Carmelo Anthony to win games is contrary to both of those.

As for him “putting the team on his back”, let’s put things in perspective. The combined record of the teams the Knicks have beaten is 86-154. Of those teams, only the Pelicans have a winning record. These were not good teams. So yes in one respect, playing Carmelo Anthony makes New York a better team (duh) but he’s not going to turn this team into a playoff team on his own, especially 28 games in the red.

What others saw:
Jason Smith played 34 minutes in another win, making his case for long term employment with this team.

What I’m thinking:
Oh Cole Aldrich and Amar’e Stoudemire were unavailable, eh? Without looking at the box score, guess how many boards Smith had. Got the number in your head? For the answer, put your MOUSE HERE.

Really Fisher, play this guy all you want this year. But if he is suiting up in orange & blue in November of 2015, we’ve got a problem.

What others saw:
Luis Amundson played 35 minutes, scored 6 points, had 13 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.

What I’m really thinking:
Honestly I kinda like this guy. Sure he can’t shoot for anything, but even outside of the box score, his defense looks pretty good. Yeah yeah — Hibbert torched him the other night, but as Wally noted in the post-game Luis Amundson’s defense was solid on many of those plays. According to 82games, the D is 5.6 points better with Amundson on the floor. Even with small sample size/crappy opponents, that’s promising.

I’m fine with guys that don’t score and contribute in other ways. Quite honestly it’s a nice niche for NBA GMs to exploit.

What others saw:
Shane Larkin played 20 minutes and like Smith, might make his case for long term employment.

What I’m thinking:
Boy I really like Langston Galloway. I don’t think Larkin (9.7 PER, 47.9% TS%) is anything more than end of bench filler, but I’m not sure if it’s that easy to find another PG. I’d be fine with dumping him in search of another D-League guy. And I’m fine with dumping him at the end of the season. Either way really.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

45 thoughts to “Knicks 94, Lakers 80. What I’m Thinking…”

  1. Mike, I agree playing Melo doesn’t make a lot of sense, but if they do shut him down after the All-Star break, I think we’ll be fine, i.e. we’ll lose plenty more games. We’ve got 34 games left, I could see us losing 25 of those and finishing with a 19-63 record. I think our biggest competition in the tank race will be Minnesota and the Lakers because they play in the West, but we do have a 3 game “head start” on LA.

    So I still think we can finish in the bottom 2 or 3 assuming we shut down Melo after the AS game.

  2. I feel very good about this draft.
    I really can’t see Jax going for Mudinay. He just doesn’t seem like a fit for the triangle, especially with Melo already firmly entrenched.
    I will be happy with one of Okafor, Johnson, Russell, Towns, or Turner, and I can’t imagine we drop lower than fifth or sixth.
    If we do drop further than that, IDK, maybe Porzingis?

  3. Honestly I kinda like this guy. Sure he can’t shoot for anything, but even outside of the box score, his defense looks pretty good. Yeah yeah — Hibbert torched him the other night, but as Wally noted in the post-game Luis Amundson’s defense was solid on many of those plays.

    I just want to note that playing solid D but getting torched anyway is kind of what happens when you’re way undersized. Lou can do everything right but his defense isn’t impacting Hibbert much because Hibbert has literally 6 inches on Lou. And that problem isn’t just a problem trying to guard true centers 1 on 1 in the post, but also as a rim protector. When you’re a ground-bound 6’9″ (and seeing him next to Melo, 6’9″ seems generous) there really isn’t much you can do to protect the rim.

    His defense has been an improvement on what we had before, but I think that has more to do with the “what we had before” part of that sentence than the “his defense” part. I like Lou Amundson as much as the next guy, but if a 32-year old 6’9″ center with no offensive game is the answer, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to ask what the question is.

  4. No no no no please not Porzingis. He’s quite good, but he will NOT come here ready to play from the first day, and we don’t want to lose any more time with that contract on Melo. If we drop at #7 or later, let’s trade down for an asset and a pick around #20.

  5. I’m brave enough to ask what the question is.

    Wasn’t it “who’s the guy who can’t shoot, can’t score and has some trouble with the ball in his hands but is still leagues better than Bargs?”

  6. What I’m thinking is that it’s going to be very difficult to out tank that Lakers squad, even though they do have the great Wayne Ellington.

  7. Porzingis looks like he’s gonna need a lot of bulking up before he can play anything resembling defense. He looks like a tall, skinny marshmallow.

  8. @3

    I’m thinking Amundson more for power forward, than center. Although I don’t think I have enough data on how he performs against more mobile 4s.

  9. Knicks cannot offer Larkin more than $1.6 million for next season, because they declined their option on him. If the salary cap only goes up moderately, that might be enough (although I doubt it). If the salary cap goes up alot (via smoothing so that it doesn’t jump from $66 million to $90 million in one year), Larking will have numerous offers over $1.6 million.

  10. I’m thinking Amundson more for power forward, than center. Although I don’t think I have enough data on how he performs against more mobile 4s.

    Yeah the problem with Lou as a 4 is that he’s clearly not going to be good offensively there. He’s not particularly skilled offensively obviously, and he’s going to be a spacing liability at the 4. So the question is can he give you enough defense and rebounding wise to offset that. I’m not sure he’s really quick enough to guard anybody at the 4 who’s any good offensively. He’s going to be at a quickness deficit against any smaller 4s, and bigger 4s are still going to have a size advantage against him.

    I mean if we’re talking about him for the 12th man next year, I’m totally in favor. He has a great attitude, he plays hard, he seems like a consummate team guy, and he plays within his lane. He doesn’t try wild hook shots (*cough* Cole *cough*) or call his own number in the post, he does exactly the things you’d want your 12th man to do in the instances where you need your 12th man to play. But if we’re talking about whether he can be the 3rd big next year? I’d expect him to be a serious liability in that role.

  11. If we do indeed shut Melo down after the ASB I think it’s nearly impossible for us to finish “better” than 5th worst in the league — Indiana has 7 more wins than we do, and they probably have too much pride to be worse than us. Seems pretty likely we’ll stay top 3 worst.

  12. by the way – now 11 games into the Langston Galloway experience, he has a +20 overall rating (+2 net rating when on court, -18 when off court). 1st, it tells you how terrible our backup guards are right now. 2nd, how refreshing is it to see a 2-way player in the backcourt for us?!

    I know Z-man thinks he’s a 10th-12th man at best but I think he’s a legit NBA rotation player. Maybe he wouldn’t start on a good team but i could easily see him as a 3rd or 4th guard on a good team.

  13. Funny that the same guys that are routinely optimistic, “Don’t worry, they’ll start playing better”, are now are now routinely optimistic, “Don’t worry, they’ll start playing worse.”
    Yikes. Fanboys kill me.

  14. Even while undersized Amundson is an improvement on everyone else we’ve played at center so yeah I’d be happy with him as a 12th man. The fact that he’s clearly been better than Cole on the defensive end tells you how valuable mobility is in a big man- the way the league is now lumbering guys who can’t move their feet are a real liability. Being able to show on screens and recover is the single most important defensive trait for a big man these days IMO. And it really helps on offense as well- he just does everything faster than Cole- quicker to set screens, rolls faster, clears out of the lane quicker, all of that stuff helps the offense even if his TS% stinks. He’s obviously no long term solution- he’s a solid 12th man but that’s about it- but he does show you how important mobility is. Something to think about if you’re faced with the choice between Okafor and Towns.

  15. If we do indeed shut Melo down after the ASB I think it’s nearly impossible for us to finish “better” than 5th worst in the league

    I agree, but can’t they be good at anything?

  16. Funny that the same guys that are routinely optimistic, “Don’t worry, they’ll start playing better”, are now are now routinely optimistic, “Don’t worry, they’ll start playing worse.”
    Yikes. Fanboys kill me.

    What?

    If we do indeed shut Melo down after the ASB I think it’s nearly impossible for us to finish “better” than 5th worst in the league — Indiana has 7 more wins than we do, and they probably have too much pride to be worse than us. Seems pretty likely we’ll stay top 3 worst.

    Yeah this team with Melo can run a pretty functional against almost every team in the league. Once he sits this team has zero chance of being more than bottom-3 offense on a nightly basis.

    I know Z-man thinks he’s a 10th-12th man at best but I think he’s a legit NBA rotation player. Maybe he wouldn’t start on a good team but i could easily see him as a 3rd or 4th guard on a good team.

    I tend to lean towards your line of thinking, but in either scenario finding a guy like that on the absolute minimum is good business.

  17. I agree that bottom five looks like a very good bet right now, just based on the logistics of it all (Minny, Philly and the Lakers will all likely lose a lot and never bet against Ainge in a tankathon, but there is too much space between the Knicks and other teams). However, on that point…

    1. Normal logic tends not to apply as much when it comes to tanking, since teams can flat out just say “yeah, we are going to lose every game from here on out.” I agree Indiana is unlikely to do that, but I wouldn’t put it past Orlando. As we’ve seen in the past, teams can flat out refuse to win if they so choose (like the famous Minnesota game where they not only started Mark Madsen and benched Kevin Garnett, but had Madsen shoot seven three-pointers – he missed them all), which can close the gap freakishly fast. That said, I agree, top five is still the most likely, but…
    2. I don’t want top five and the Knicks shouldn’t be happy with top five. It should be top three or bust. And the annoying thing is that the key to that is…
    3. Melo making a smart decision about his career. I’d like to say that I have confidence in him to do so…

  18. Interesting little area on NBA.com that I hadn’t seen before– the “defense dashboard” in the Sportvu Tracking section.

    our awful 3 point defense can be narrowed down to just a few players:

    Tim Hardaway Jr. http://stats.nba.com/player/#!/203501/tracking/defense/ – players he’s defending shoot 35.7% from 3 against everyone else, but 44.3% against him

    Calderon – http://stats.nba.com/player/#!/101181/tracking/defense/ – +12%!!!!

    Carmelo Anthony http://stats.nba.com/player/#!/2546/tracking/defense/ –> +8% vs Melo

    probably NOT the culprits:
    JR –> -1%
    Iman –> +1%
    Larkin –> +2%
    Pablo –> #2%

    The answer?

    Galloway –> -12.5%

  19. For Pablo’s sake I hope he goes to a team where he will get playing time and is a team that isn’t horrible. I remember watching the Knicks play Houston and thinking no way he can defend Harden, but he did, and, at least by the eye test, played him pretty well.

  20. I see some people compare D’angelo Russel to Harden but I see a lot of Stephen Curry. Last year before Phil was officially the Pres. Jackie McCallum reported that she asked Jackson what player today most fit the triangle and Phil immediately said Stephen Curry. So what if Phil sees Russel as the next Curry and takes him if they get the #2 spot instead of number 1?

  21. I would be very disappointed if the Knicks got the 2nd pick in the draft and picked Russel. If you are picking second I would want to come away with either Okafor or Towns (my preferred choice). The Knicks desperately need front court help and getting either would be a step in the right direction.

  22. As we’ve seen in the past, teams can flat out refuse to win if they so choose

    I don’t know. Atlanta went into tank mode last season and accidentally made the playoffs. Since then they are 40-8(!).

    Also, Toronto was headed into full tank mode last year, and they too miraculously started winning to the tune of the #1 team in their division.

    And the Sixers, in their tanking of the past two seasons have only managed the #3 pick last year and are outperforming win expectations for this year.

    So, yes, in theory it’s easy to lose games on purpose. But that’s just a game here and a game there. To tank the last 3 months of a season is harder because the players tend to have pride and hate losing as much as the the next guy.

    So the Knicks should try to get better, develop the kids, build something that can translate into wins next year, and not just lose for losing’s sake.

  23. I see some people compare D’angelo Russel to Harden but I see a lot of Stephen Curry. Last year before Phil was officially the Pres. Jackie McCallum reported that she asked Jackson what player today most fit the triangle and Phil immediately said Stephen Curry. So what if Phil sees Russel as the next Curry and takes him if they get the #2 spot instead of number 1?

    I could see Russell being in play if they are #3 down. The thing that worries me, though, is that if they’re #3 and down (and especially #4 down) is that then it becomes very tempting to trade the pick.

  24. I wasn’t really into D’Angelo Russell earlier in the season but he has been killing it lately, and looking like a real good guard, a high-IQ guy who scores efficiently and likes to pass the ball. In terms of sheer production, he has been the best freshman in college hoops other than Jahlil Okafor. Of course I want one of the big men in this draft but Russell looks to me like a guy who should be a very good NBA guard.

  25. This is the whole problem with the Melo signing. If the Knicks get a top 5 pick (which they should) trading the pick for an established player makes the most sense for Melo but not for the Knicks. Okafor, Russel and Towns etc are going to need a lot of time before they are ready, time that Melo does not have.

    That is why Phil’s strategy was never tank because signing Melo and teaching a kid are completely opposite ends of the spectrum. It will be interesting to see if Phil has the power in the organization to say no to Melo (and perhaps Dolan) when the Knicks get a top 5 pick and Melo is campaigning for a Cousins/Aldridge etc trade.

  26. Well, as we discussed the other day, I’d be fine with a Cousins trade, but I don’t think he’d be available for a pick, though. Actually, that’s an interesting exercise – who is the best player that might actually be available for a #4 pick? Eric Bledsoe is the first name to come to mind, and he’s obviously not that great.

  27. I actually think Russel NBA adjustment will be easier than Towns or even Okafor. Big men take a while to develop and get used to the banging. I think the spacing in the NBA free up guards so that they can play in space more and have more opportunities to penetrate.

    I like Towns but if Phil see his ideal Triangle player in Russell why not take him there or do a little Jamison and Carter/ Love and Mayo type trade?

  28. Other possible options for a #4 pick, none of which are all that appealing (basically you “have” to look at veteran players making or due to make a lot of money who play for bad teams that would prefer to rebuild):

    Gordon Hayward
    Nikola Vucevic
    Ty Lawson

  29. I dont think Towns is a lock for the 2nd pick at all. He might even be available at 4 or 5.

  30. Brian Cronin February 2, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Other possible options for a #4 pick, none of which are all that appealing (basically you “have” to look at veteran players making or due to make a lot of money who play for bad teams that would prefer to rebuild):

    Gordon Hayward
    Nikola Vucevic

    Who are off your board at # 4 and is a swap of 1st included in this scenario?

  31. Since the pick can’t be traded until it is physically made, it doesn’t matter who’s on the board (hypothetically).

  32. I get that. Well I’m just thinking if Towns or Russell are still available then I wouldn’t trade the pick but if I can get Hayward/Vucevic/lawson and their pick why not.

  33. I think the idea is trading the pick, straight up, for a more developed player, that doesn’t have to grow up alongside Carmelo during his closing window.

  34. I dont want to trade the pick especially if the Knicks can get Towns or Okafor. If Lawson, bledsoe or hayward are the best I can get for my 1st, I wouldnt want to trade my 1st for either if I had a top 15 pick. Those guys are nice players but they don’t move the needle much considering the salary they make which limits the availabe FA money.

  35. “I know Z-man thinks he’s a 10th-12th man at best but I think he’s a legit NBA rotation player. Maybe he wouldn’t start on a good team but i could easily see him as a 3rd or 4th guard on a good team.”

    Anything is possible, but I doubt it. Love the guy on the current deal, but still say he’s a prototypical tweener. Anyone else notice how Bynum chewed him up? He is physically overmatched at the 2. His only hope to crack a rotation on a good team is to significantly improve his PG skills, which are severely lacking right now. If yes, I see him maybe as a C. J. Watson-type.

  36. What’s the highest pick you would trade for Kidd-Gilchrist (assume for realism Charlotte isn’t getting the pick but getting some stupid player from a third team in the deal)?

  37. What’s the highest pick you would trade for Kidd-Gilchrist (assume for realism Charlotte isn’t getting the pick but getting some stupid player from a third team in the deal)?

    If the Knicks had a late first rounder or a couple of 2nd rounders flip I’d do it. MKG sucks on offense, but he legitimately could be one of the 5 most impactful defenders in the league.

  38. I think he’s worth a lot more than that. I would quickly give up the #6 for him this year, for example, and would consider going higher. He is up to 5.5 FTA per game and he is shooting over 40% from 10-20 feet post the Mark Price makeover, though it’s early to say that will hold up. His TS% still sucks this year, but that looks like a fluke — he is shooting 10 points worse than average at the rim and only dunking half as often. Probably not a thing considering he’s 21. Otherwise, he’s pretty much Kawhi so if this shooting is for real and the rim efficiency reverts enough to get you to TS 54% at 5-6 FTA/36 you are talking about a really, really good, really young asset. And at worst you get a better, 21 year old Tony Allen. Last year of rookie deal detracts from value versus a draft pick, but still would pay way more than a late 1. In fact, it’s a shame Melo would never go to Charlotte bc you know Jordan would love to make a mistake to get him.

  39. I just don’t think Charlotte may value him all that highly and I bet that the fact he doesn’t light up the scoreboard and has kind of a hideous looking jumper depresses his value around the league.

    Idk about being Kawhi, but he’d certainly be a very impactful player.

  40. Come on guys, the season is not yet over. There is no reason to win games and drop to 4 onwards on the draft. We need to get the worst record, play our young guys, and assure ourselves of the top 3 pick. And we should not trade the pick.

  41. Let’s cheer up! ASG is just a few games away. I’m scared as hell that Melo won’t stop playing, though, and that he’ll go through surgery in August. That would be really, really disappointing. But I maintain hope that’s not what’s going to happen.

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