Knicks Morning News (2016.01.08)

  • [New York Post] Are Knicks playoff contenders? Win over Spurs would help case (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 01:09:55 -0500)

    SAN ANTONIO — The Knicks have gone from league laughingstocks to contenders for the East's eighth seed. Friday night in Alamo City, the Knicks can stamp themselves as the dark-horse club none of the East's giants would care to battle in the first round if they can be the first team this season to go…

  • [New York Times] Defensive-Minded Bulls Top Celts for Sixth in a Row (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 06:57:37 GMT)

    The Chicago Bulls are becoming an offensive juggernaut but they are quick to credit their defense for a season-high six-game winning streak and a rapid rise up the NBA’s scoring rankings.

  • [New York Times] Harden’s 33 Points Lead Rockets to Victory (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 06:48:37 GMT)

    James Harden tallied a game-high 33 points and the Houston Rockets wrangled control in the second half by quickening the tempo to surge past the Utah Jazz 103-94 on Thursday at Toyota Center.

  • [New York Times] NBA Capsules (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 06:42:40 GMT)

    Pau Gasol had 17 points and 18 rebounds, Derrick Rose scored 18 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 101-92 on Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.

  • [New York Times] Kings Blow Big Lead, Beat Lakers in Kobe’s Sacramento Finale (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 06:30:41 GMT)

    DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and the Kings blew all of a 27-point lead in the second half before beating the Los Angeles Lakers 118-115 on Thursday night in Kobe Bryant’s last Sacramento appearance.

  • [New York Times] N.B.A. Roundup: Bulls Extend Winning Streak to Six Games, Downing Celtics (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 04:40:09 GMT)

    The Bulls beat the Boston Celtics, 101-92, on Thursday night in Chicago for their sixth straight victory.

  • [New York Times] Harden, Rockets Beat Jazz Again, 103-94 (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 03:52:20 GMT)

    James Harden scored 33 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 103-94 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

  • [New York Times] Gasol, Rose Lead Way as Bulls Beat Celtics 101-92 (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 03:34:47 GMT)

    Pau Gasol had 17 points and 18 rebounds, Derrick Rose scored 18 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 101-92 on Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.

  • [New York Times] Hawks Rout 76ers 126-98 to End Two-Game Skid (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 02:39:47 GMT)

    Kent Bazemore scored 22 points, Paul Millsap and Al Horford had 18 apiece and the Atlanta Hawks blew out the Philadelphia 76ers 126-98 on Thursday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

  • [New York Daily News] Bondy: From new Melo to MIA Phil, five thoughts on Knicks (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 06:48:10 GMT)

    Here’s a statement only a chaos theorist could’ve foreseen last year: if the Knicks were in the West, they’d be in a playoff spot today.

  • [New York Daily News] Crips boss seen with ex-Knicks president Isiah Thomas in pic (Fri, 08 Jan 2016 03:05:10 GMT)

    Ex-Knicks president Isiah Thomas’ name and face surfaced in a photo shown during the hearing of a Crips gang leader.

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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).

    51 thoughts to “Knicks Morning News (2016.01.08)”

    1. D’Angelo Russell after 1 good game – (i guess he has been playing better lately) ” y’all ain’t seen nothin yet”. This cocky rookie has sucked so far, plays a little better for a crappy team that lets him throw it up from anywhere, and starts shooting his mouth off. Not rooting for him. How lucky we were to get KP. Hard working, respectful, just a great kid.

    2. Yeah I like Russell’s offensive potential and maybe he can become a halfway decent defensive player but he sure seems like a fucking tool.

    3. I never was sold on Russell. I don’t hate his game, but I do think he’s overrated. As a PG, he has nice vision but he’s not quick enough, nor does he have the defensive IQ to make up for his inability to keep up with PG’s. Also, he’s not yet strong enough to use his size at that spot. It’s all correctable and he certainly can grow into the position. I just felt like he wasn’t a sure-fire top 3 pick. I look at him as more of a James Harden type- once he gets his strength up. So, he still has a high ceiling. It’s just that everyone was going gaga over his PG potential and I always thought he will be a much better SG than PG. He is a bit cocky, but he’s young..very young. All NBA players need a healthy ego. His will come down to the right place eventually.

    4. Solid article from Bleacher Report on whether Melo gets a fair whistle or not.

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2606013-by-the-numbers-does-carmelo-anthony-get-superstar-calls

      Their conclusion is that, relative to the Top 30 scorers in the league, he’s basically average in all foul-drawing metrics. The only exception is that he actually draws fouls in the paint at a pretty high rate, but gets into the paint at a pretty low rate (again, among Top 30 scorers).

      As much as it seems like he gets hacked without a whistle, this article makes a solid case that he’s not an outlier.

    5. I’m not sure how much player development is nature or nurture, but Russell is playing for a clown team bros.

    6. The Lakers’ situation is one of those fascinating cases where it’s like, yes, Byron Scott is the man if you want to make sure your team sucks enough to not lose your top three pick (and if they manage to finish in the top two worst records, the odds of them losing the pick are low – having the worst record would make it even lower), so it makes sense to keep him around in that context, but then you see just how bad he is and how much he just ruins players and it is just…wow…it is a tough call to make.

    7. Yeah I just don’t see the value in tanking as a multiyear strategy. I think what Phil did…dismantle a team when its obvious they suck anyways to insure a high pick one year is ok. But multiple years seems like fools gold to me. Players have to be developed and their first few years in the NBA are very crucial to that. And whats the point in having good draft picks and young players if they hate their coach and where they are playing? Because they will want to leave just when they might be getting good.

      There are so many players who could have been great but got put into bad situations early on and never learned how to be good NBA players. Its more important than ever IMO bc most of these kids don’t learn a lot of the fundamentals before they get to the NBA. Most enter after only one year of college.

      I would love for the D-League to be expanded so that every team had a D-League team and I would almost consider a set up where players below a certain age had to spend a season in the D-League (or maybe half a season) before they were called up.

    8. At this point he’s projecting to be a Rudy Gobert level defender with far more offensive potential.

      It’s hard to project much because of age and a changing league, but of the 7’2″+ players of significance that have played, through their first 1000 minutes in the league, KP and Hibbert are almost step for step.

      http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&y1=2016&p1=porzikr01&y2=2009&p2=hibbero01&p3=&p4=&p5=&p6=

    9. I think Byron Scott is a decent coach..just not with that team. Maybe it’s Kobe..maybe it’s the “Lakers Mystique”..I don’t know. But coming from the Showtime Lakers, I figured that Scott would let the young legs play fast and free like Nash’s Suns. Randle, Russell and Clarkson are actually a nice trio to build on if you want a fast paced team. They also have Lou Williams. I suppose it would be hard to turn the young guys loose with an aging Kobe and methodical Hibbert. Hibbert would actually be a good fit in the Knicks’ system- he’s got nice touch for a giant, clogs the paint on D, and passes well. But he’s less mobile than Lopez so I’m glad Hibbert’s in LA lol. Back to Scott- he’s in a bad position. A team with bad management and a mismatched roster. Sound familiar? Personally, I think Pringles would have done better here with a roster that made sense..or Fish would have been much better in year 1 had the roster not been so mismatched. I don’t think Scott’s a great coach..but he’s certainly better than he’s shown in LA. Hey..can we change the meaning of LAL from Los Angeles Lakers to Laughing All Loud? Man it feels good to not have that dysfunction on the Knicks anymore

    10. That’s a very good point. I just thought about that and I was just about to correct myself lol.

    11. Scott is not a good coach unless he has Chris Paul to run the team for him….

      And Jason Kidd before him. Scott is hopelessly foolish. It’s like the guy has never seen a basketball game before.

    12. I live in LA and I’ll watch some Laker hoops sometimes, for the lulz if nothing else. D’Angelo Russell looks pretty bad most of the time. He’s supposed to be a wizard in terms of ball skills, but his handle seems pretty loose for a guy who is supposed to be an elite NBA point guard prospect. He throws some nifty passes from time to time, but overall he looks more like a shooting guard to me. I can see the comparisons to Harden in terms of physique, but Harden excels in traffic and had some of those abilities even as a rookie. Russell on the other hand has a microscopic free throw rate and does not take the ball to the rack aggressively. I’m not saying he’s going to be a bust, but he’s going to have to develop some part of his game that is currently not there– he’ll either have to get stronger and better at finishing at the rim or he’ll have to develop a silky smooth jump shot if he’s going to become an impact player. Right now he’s hard to project.

    13. I’m as interested in watching this historically great Spurs squad as I am in seeing the Knicks compete tonight. No shame in losing to these guys. If the Knicks play hard and keep it close I’ll be satisfied. If they somehow manage to win, I’ll become a public nuisance.

    14. It’s super hard to become a very good team in the NBA since the league is controlled by the best players. There are 18 teams that missed the playoffs more than twice between 2006 and 2011: Knicks, Nets, Raptors, 76ers, Indiana, Detroit, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Washington, Portland, OKC, Minnesota, Clippers, Golden State, Sacramento, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, LAC

      Here are the 16 teams between 2010 and last season that won 55+ games (adjusting for the 50 game season in 11/12): Cleveland, Orlando, LAL, Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, Miami, Boston, OKC, Denver, LAC, Memphis, Indiana, Golden State, Atlanta, Houston

      Here is the intersection of those two lists: OKC, LAC, Memphis, Golden State, Houston

      So that’s a list of teams that have successfully gone from forgettable to title contention.

      OKC: Tanked and developed its draft picks.
      LAC: Tanked (perhaps unintentionally) and developed Griffin while trading other lotto picks for Paul
      Memphis: Failed at the draft 2/3 times despite high lotto picks. Mayo and Thabeet killed them. Conley turned out pretty well. The tank didn’t help them much. Free agency and the acquisition of M. Gasol via trade were the keys.
      Golden State: Didn’t exactly tank but built its team with mid/high lotto picks.
      Houston: Made itself a bazaar for other teams to pick up present talent in exchange for future talent. Acquired and developed younger players who were misused by other teams. Got a ton of value from signing 2nd round picks to long term contracts.

      The only path here that comes close to resembling the one PJ seems intent on following is the grizzlies, and the key ingredient that’s missing is Marc Gasol. Porzingis may be our Conley, and Melo may be our Z-Bo, but who is our Marc Gasol?

    15. I think the memphis comparison is a bit uncharitable. Phil never hit any home runs, but he pretty consistently picked up picks during the fire sale/impromptu tank last year. We don’t know Phil’s motives, but the Pablo move in particular shows that the value extracting future assets during a lost season was not lost on him. And we still don’t know what we’re going to get out of Willy H.

      I’d argue that the key to Phil’s approach has establishing a consistent culture/system and developing cohesion over a few years a la Golden State. I’m obviously not saying we’re going to be anywhere near as successful as them (it helps to actually 1) have picks and 2) have generational superstar talent available in the middle of the first/early second rounds), but we’re already starting to see early returns on the continuity moves like the Lance resigning that was scoffed at at the time.

    16. And I’d further argue that for a franchise as dysfunctional as ours, simply getting the stink off of ourselves is a huge achievement.
      We have solid prospects and a few bargain value contracts locked in for the next few years. At this rate, by 2018, free agents will no longer perceive us as a clown car, and all that we could reasonably hope for.

    17. Before I get crucified, I’d like to clarify my position on Golden State. I recognize that they have a ton of things going for them that we don’t. We aren’t on the same planet as them, and we probably won’t be for the next decade. I’m simply saying that allowing a young core to grow and develop together while establishing a good culture and playing system basketball has benefits.
      The knicks seem to be establishing some of those things, and I’m excited to see those benefits when they’re realized in a few years.

    18. What’s really crazy about this season is that in any other year we’d be talking about the Spurs and Kawhis historically great seasons but rather we’re talking about GS and Steph who somehow manage to be even better. I could see both teams get to 70+ wins and then play a ridiculous western conference finals series.

      What a good time to be a basketball fan

    19. Before I get crucified, I’d like to clarify my position on Golden State. I recognize that they have a ton of things going for them that we don’t. We aren’t on the same planet as them, and we probably won’t be for the next decade. I’m simply saying that allowing a young core to grow and develop together while establishing a good culture and playing system basketball has benefits.
      The knicks seem to be establishing some of those things, and I’m excited to see those benefits when they’re realized in a few years.

      Golden State is the combination of smart planning, a smart coaching change and a tremendous amount of luck. How many people actually could have predicted that Steph Curry would become the heir to “greatest shooter of the modern era,” while being a great passer and steal artist? They’ve made a lot of smart decisions, but also some middling ones. Last year, their highest-paid player (Lee, at $15M) played just 107 minutes in the playoffs!

    20. Serious question that I’ve always wondered:

      Is it the good drafting teams that recognize the best talent? Or good drafting teams that happen to develop players the best? (A la: Spurs, GSW, OKC in particular- how is their developmental team, and how is their scouting, is it both?)

    21. Wow, after San Antonio, there are a bunch of very winnable games coming up, plus a big game against Boston. Could be a nice couple of weeks! And hell, if they somehow pull out a win tonight…

    22. Is it the good drafting teams that recognize the best talent? Or good drafting teams that happen to develop players the best? (A la: Spurs, GSW, OKC in particular- how is their developmental team, and how is their scouting, is it both?)

      i’m sure it’s some combination. the spurs’ developmental infrastructure is legendary, and now you can see it in atlanta too as budenholzer has done an amazing job with a bunch of players there.

      I’m actually very impressed with the Knicks’ development staff – I think it was Sczerbiak who said that Brian Keefe was the development guy in Seattle/OKC when Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, etc. were all young. Definitely seems like Fisher pulled off a coup by getting him to come to the Knicks with him. Galloway and Lance Thomas have clearly outperformed expectations. Lopez’s post game has improved by leaps and bounds from even earlier this season. And KP is definitely better than advertised, and definitely better than he was even in summer league, so some of his great start has to be attributed to the work they did with him between summer league and the start of the year (offseason + training camp).

    23. I agree with THCJ…. It’s all of the above, and mostly luck.

      Their sheer dominance is still a bit mysterious to me…. I know all the numbers.

    24. Right, Alecto, you have those teams and no one is talking about OKC, who have the most dominant two-man pair since Kobe/Shaq, who when on the floor together the Thunder are an absolutely absurd +17 points per 48min better than their opponent.

      At their best, and with a little help, they can beat SA or GS… which is the kind of scenario that takes you back to the late ’80s.

    25. I think the Spurs have the highest point differential in NBA history at this point in an NBA season.

    26. It’ll be a bit less after tonight!! Hmmm…that needs work as far as battle cries go.

    27. Steph Curry, 27.1 FGA/48 at 67.7% TS
      Klay Thompson, 23.4 FGA/48 at 59.7%

      That’s why they’re blowing teams out.

    28. Again, I know the numbers and Curry’s dominance: but they’re 6th in defensive rating and are the second best offensive rebounding team in the league despite often playing w/out a guy taller than 6-foot-8…

      At some level, the Spurs make a bit more sense, at least defensively.

    29. Wow, after San Antonio, there are a bunch of very winnable games coming up, plus a big game against Boston. Could be a nice couple of weeks! And hell, if they somehow pull out a win tonight…

      I’m not with you on this. Looking at the rest of January, I rated the games (my opinion) as either the Knicks being favorites, underdogs or pretty even. For these 13 games I’ve got them at 3-5-5 (W-L-T) which is not a favorable schedule.

      @ SAN – Underdog
      MIL – Even
      BOS – Even
      @ NYN – Favorite
      @ MEM – Even
      PHI – Favorite
      UTA – Underdog
      LAC – Underdog
      @ CHA – Even
      OKC – Underdog
      @ TOR – Even
      PHX – Favorite
      GS – Underdog

      I’ll be up in the Blue seats this Tuesday to see the Celtics. I think it’s a crucial game as is the game vs TOR later in the month.

      Also, how far has David Lee fallen that he’s not even a rotation player. I would to somehow get him on this roster.

    30. As excited as I am to see Boban, Kawhi for me is the reason to watch (although not sure I am going to get to)

      What he is doing this season is pretty unbelievable. Putting up center cut MVP numbers. Pretty amazing for a draft afterthought.

      Watching him and Green on the court together for seven games would be as much as I could hope for this spring….

    31. The Warriors were the #1 defense in the league last year, and probably would be again this year of they didn’t take most 4th quarters off. (The drop off from Bogut and Green defensively to Speights and Barbosa is quite significant). The offensive numbers of Curry et al are staggering, but ultimately, as we saw on Christmas when they played Cleveland, they are extremely difficult to score on.

      Warriors v Spurs is going to be amazing. I think their first match is coming up quite soon.

    32. I think the memphis comparison is a bit uncharitable

      Uncharitable? Since 2011, Memphis owns a .630 winning percentage. They’ve been to the WCF. They’ve been a major contender in a historically strong conference. If NY manages anything close to the success of Memphis during Jackson’s tenure, he gets an A+.

    33. “Watching him and Green on the court together for seven games would be as much as I could hope for this spring….”

      More fun than a surprise Knicks deep playoff run?

    34. Yeah, should be some really interesting games. Can Kawhi guard Curry? What do the Spurs do with Parker? Can Aldridge work the Warriors down low when they go small?

    35. I’m not with you on this. Looking at the rest of January, I rated the games (my opinion) as either the Knicks being favorites, underdogs or pretty even. For these 13 games I’ve got them at 3-5-5 (W-L-T) which is not a favorable schedule.

      I mean, they’re not all cream puffs, but 8 out of 13 even or better is still a nice stretch of games. As you note, there’s only five games where you’d term them noticeable underdogs, and one of those, Utah, I think is a stretch as an underdog.

      I’m going to the OKC game. Should be a fun game.

    36. @Donnie
      To be clear, I meant process-wise, not results-wise. Obviously we’re not in Memphis’s league either. But your description of their process reads, “Failed at the draft 2/3 times despite high lotto picks. Mayo and Thabeet killed them. Conley turned out pretty well. The tank didn’t help them much. Free agency and the acquisition of M. Gasol via trade were the keys.”

      I just don’t see the similarity between duffing high lotto picks/getting lucky in free agency with what we’re doing. Point taken though, that kind of success would be A+ work

    37. Spurs play the Warriors twice in the last week of the season. Who knows if they’ll both be able keep up their insane level of play till then. Hopefully they do and home court is on the line and they don’t rest their stars. I’ll be a little disappointed if they don’t meet in the WCF.

    38. I mean, they’re not all cream puffs, but 8 out of 13 even or better is still a nice stretch of games.

      Granted, it’s an easier run than the last 10 games and we did pretty well with them. Your 8 out 13 includes the 5 games that could go either way. A betting man would say we’re going 5-8 or 6-7 during this stretch.

    39. Golden State is the combination of smart planning, a smart coaching change and a tremendous amount of luck

      I think it’s easy to write any success off as luck, especially when it plays so much of a roll in intimately deciding who is a champion and who isn’t. But the Golden State model of rebuilding is the model that all teams should follow. They didn’t tank, but they valued their draft picks, even the later ones, and didn’t trade them away during their rebuild. That isn’t luck. That is sound management that paid terrific dividends.

      2009: #7 Curry
      2010: #6 Udoh
      2011: #11 Klay Thompson
      #44 Charles Jenkins
      2012: #7 Harrison Barnes
      #30 Festus Ezeli
      #35 Draymond Green
      #52 Ognjen Kuzmic

      So in 4 years they made 8 picks, none in the top 5. Still, 4/5 of the starting lineup for their championship was drafted during this time, and their biggest bust (and highest pick!), was traded for Bogut, their 5th starter. So, yes, it’s lucky that the guys they drafted werent drafted by other teams first. But that 2012 draft was a phenomenal performance, made possible by a strategy that valued picks, even second rounders, which other, considerably worse, teams throw around like they grow on trees.

      OKC took a similar route toward building their roster, but it included losing games on purpose and netting higher picks. And the Spurs have been magical, but even they tanked a full season.

      The folks that built Golden State deserve huge credit. And the cool thing is, ANY team could have built what they built. They didn’t out spend, or out tank. They actually did it with relatively little luck, I’d say, compared to champions of the past.

    40. To be fair – they absolutely tanked at the end of the season before they picked Barnes #7, since their pick was top 8 protected, or something close to that.
      but no, they never did what Philly has done the past few seasons.

      But I would argue this — they are lucky that David Kahn was GM of the Wolves during the Curry draft. To pick TWO PGs and not pick Curry, leaving him for GS? That’s luck. It’s a testament to the fact that Minnesota is the kindest media market ever that writers there haven’t gone on and on and on about the fact that Kahn picked Jonny Flynn over Steph Curry when Flynn wasn’t even in the top 10 in most mocks (and most mocks had Curry going to Minny).

      Curry’s net rating is +28.7 per 100 poss. That is absolutely insane. GS is -5.5 per 100 poss when he is off the floor and +23.2 when on the floor. And all thanks to KAAAAAAAHHHNNN!!!!!

    41. Am I in that crazy minority that thinks that GS shouldn’t be able to beat San Antonio? Last season wasn’t a fluke because GS won it all and they are unbelievably good, but the Spurs are also unbelievably good- from top to bottom. Do I have too much faith in Pop an them? Both teams are really smart- on the floor and in the front office. Both teams have great star players and great coaches. But Pop is the holy grail of coaching, IMO. And that’s always the tiebreaker- especially in a 7 game series. Sure, the Spurs aren’t as spry as they used to be. But, is there a smarter, more skilled team than the Spurs? One could easily argue that the Spurs play together even better than GS. I just hope they meet in the WCF and the series lasts 10 games. The Spurs are definitely that older guy at the Y who routinely busts his younger competition’s asses on the court while the younger guys are stuck like “how in THEE hell..???”.

    42. I think it’s going to be super close with the balance being tipped by an injury to a crucial piece.

      I would love to see the Knicks rumble to the ECF. That would be amazing.

      But Warriors – Spurs could be one for the ages.

    43. To be fair – they absolutely tanked at the end of the season before they picked Barnes #7, since their pick was top 8 protected, or something close to that.
      but no, they never did what Philly has done the past few seasons.

      Yeah, maybe, but that was the strike shortened season, so the tanking period was abbreviated :)

      (Also, scuffling a few meaningless games at the end of a strike shortened season to stay in the bottom 10 is a far cry from being a ping-pong ball whore, which even the Spurs resorted to being back in ’97).

    44. Living in the bay area, I see a lot of Warriors. So funny to think that it wasn’t too long ago that fans were booing the owner for trading Monta Ellis (the real asset that they traded away for Bogut, Udoh was salary filler)!

      If the Warriors had any luck, it was with injuries. They were able to buy low on Bogut because of his injuries and he is rounded out to one of the best passing and best defensive centers in the game. Curry came back from multiple ankle surgeries. With their two best players out, they pulled off a stealth tank to save their 1st round pick (even then, they had to win a tiebreaker with Toronto to get the 7th pick). Coming off those injuries, the Warriors signed both Bogut and Curry to very cap friendly deals, allowing for much of the current cap flexibility they enjoy.

      With the cap rising in the next few years, they should be able to afford re-signing Barnes and giving out the Megamax to Steph when it comes due. But the team will be intact as it is through 2016-2017 and depending on how much they want to spend on the luxury tax to keep Bogut and Iggy back (probably a lot since they will be trying to fill a new arena at the time) they have the makings of a pretty good run.

    45. @MikeSGallagher

      Reno coach: “Jimmer can’t guard anybody. I can tell you that right now. So we can go at him all day, force the help, get where we wanna go.”

      That’s a pretty harsh assessment.

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