Monday, July 30, 2012
Fresh off a workout in front of various NBA team representatives (including some from the Knicks), a number of prospects such as Vernon Goodridge and Tony Taylor Jr. hit the hardwood for a fantastic cause this weekend.
The Malone Mulhall Benefit Game hosted its second annual event this past Saturday afternoon at Adelphi University. An array of NBA Vegas Summer League standouts, as well as a couple more league-ready talents, such as the Spurs' Danny Green and local favorite Scott Machado, played in front of an excited packed crowd.
The event is held to honor the memories of three tremendous young adults--Jamie Malone, Paige Malone, and Michael Mulhall. The trio lost their lives in a tragic car accident in Floral Park during 2010. At the time, they were on their way to continue working at Camp ANCHOR, a camp where all three spent a great deal of time helping and working with kids with special needs.
As all three were big basketball fans, the players at Saturday's game aimed to put on an entertaining contest for all present to enjoy, all the while appreciating the lasting legacies the remembered left.
Neither team seemed to disappoint. Though Green and Machado may have been the headlining attractions, it was Goodridge who helped electrify the crowd. Known for his high-flying athletic ability, the 6'10" big man leaped and soared as he threw down a bevy of dunks. The Brooklyn native connected on a number of dimes from teammates and slammed in a couple of put-back dunks too.
For his acrobatic display, Goodridge was also fittingly named the Slam Dunk Champion during a side contest this year, beating out St. John's Red Storm alum Paris Horne.
Horne and former Red Storm teammate Justin Burrell displayed a great deal of chemistry of the court, finding one another again and again throughout the game for easy buckets. The two paced a 116-104 victory for their team, which was coached by NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin. NBA and Knicks play-by-play man Mike Breen returned to the contest for the second year in a row, coaching a team filled with talents like Green, Machado, and Goodridge.
Another strong standout from Breen's squad was Jeff Xavier, who plays overseas in Spain. Xavier is truly one of the best pure shooters you'll ever see. He's a strong guard who enjoys pushing the tempo and getting the ball up the court. Not much of a playmaker, Xavier can knock down shots with ease from long-range. He won the event's Three Point Shootout for the second year in a row, this year tying Green for the top honor.
In addition to Goodridge, Taylor Jr. and Rashad Bishop were among those from Friday's NBA workout playing in the charity game. Both guards played on Mullin's team and helped entertain the crowd by making shots from all around the gym. Taylor Jr. also continued to display those steady and intelligent floor general instincts.
Basketball fans can continue to donate and support the wonderful cause by visiting the MMBG's website today.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
By committing to a "win now" mentality, the Knicks are putting their money where their mouth is, signing veteran leaders and role players to surround their stars.
In doing so, New York has had to spend more money this offseason, making the necessary sacrifices to lure in proven talents.
As the team still has at least one (two if the team chooses not to retain Chris Copeland) spot to fill on their fifteen man roster, Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald may be, at this point, looking for a couple diamonds in the rough.
Grunwald was present at the Basketball City facility yesterday in New York City for the "RBA Sports Summer Showcase." His attendance came just a day after the Knicks' G.M. met with RBA Sports client Tony Taylor Jr. and gave him a tour of the team's training facilities in Westchester.
Taylor Jr. hit the hardwood yesterday ready to prove himself to an array of NBA team representatives. The Nets and Grizzlies were also amongst the teams present at the workout.
A George Washington University alum, Taylor Jr. demonstrated some of the great playmaking ability many around him rave about. It's easy to see the young point guard is a smart player with stellar instincts. He looks for his teammates and knows how to find them in the right spots.
Though Taylor Jr. was clearly the best floor general at the workout, what he wasn't quite able to show off was his strength. Having been compared to the likes of Chauncey Billups and Jeremy Lin, one would have expected the Sleepy Hollow native to penetrate to the basket a little more often.
While he did indeed have a strong showing, the workout wasn't all about Taylor Jr. Many other notable NBA prospects thrived despite the immense amount of pressure.
Among those to impress was Kayode Ayeni. Ayeni displayed a strong jump shot, making it rain from both corners during scrimmages. Despite having spent training camp last year with the Erie Bayhawks, a Knicks D-League affiliate, Ayeni's physical frame is perplexing. He's listed as a 6'6 forward who weighs 180 pounds. If he were able to bulk up just a bit, his consistent shooting could earn him an opportunity.
Rashad Bishop was another wing who had a strong showing during scrimmages as well. He too displayed a consistent jumper, connecting on a bevy of passes from Taylor Jr. Unlike Ayeni, Bishop is 220 pounds and therefore was able to hold his own on the defensive end as well. The forward played in Brazil last season.
Past NBA D-League participant Vernon Goodridge was among the better big men part of yesterday's workout. The 6'10 forward rebounded the ball well and displayed some high-flying athleticism as he dunked home quite a few put-back buckets. Having said that, Goodridge failed to really use his strength to his advantage. The big man could have essentially dominated the workout, had he used his frame to muscle his way around and get inside more often.
All the mentioned players did a decent job of giving the NBA representatives a taste of what they could do, but perhaps the most (pleasantly) surprising display came from 28 year old Brian Kortovich. A 6'0, 180 pound guard, Kortovich may not look like your typical NBA player at first glance. But the fact is the Manhattan College alum can shoot with the best of the them.
Kortovich was aggressive in his shot selection. He wasn't afraid to take a number of bold shots, but never seemed to fail at knocking them down either. One of the best shooters in the entire workout, Kortovich even began to outplay Taylor Jr. during the early goings of the scrimmages. The guard with a sweet shooting stroke played in Israel last season, but has been in training camp with the Knicks and Nets over the last three years as well.
There was certainly enough talent to observe and take note of during yesterday's "RBA Sports' Summer Showcase," so it's entirely possible Grunwald and the Knicks may end up giving a couple of these guys a shot during training camp. More to come as it develops.
Friday, July 27, 2012
As NBA teams seemed to prove in last month's rookie draft, as talented a player as Iona College's Scott Machado is, sometimes homegrown products just simply get overlooked.
Perhaps among those underrated is Tony Taylor Jr., a 6'3 guard out of George Washington University, who averaged 13.1 points and 4.3 assists during his senior senior in 2011-12.
Though Taylor went undrafted last month, his agent (BJ Bass of RBA Sports) has enough confidence in the Sleepy Hollow, NY native to believe he's ready to break ground on his journey to the NBA.
And Bass isn't afraid of letting Taylor Jr.'s hometown team know, either. He and his client made a trip to Westchester Thursday morning during which Knicks' General Manager Glen Grunwald gave the young guard a tour of the team's training facilities.
The agent made his intentions clear to KnicksJournal.com by adding, "I met with Glen Grunwald [Thursday morning] to let him know how I feel-- and to ask him to consider Tony for a spot in the team's veteran camp."
Knicks fans would certainly be able to appreciate the skills Taylor Jr. brings to the table. He is a strong guard who is often praised for his penetration to the basket, and has even drawn comparisons to a former Knicks guard.
Talking about his talents, the GWU graduate noted, "I've been compared to somewhat of a Chauncey Billups. Not as tall, but I like to get my teammates involved a lot and can hit the open jump shot."
In addition to saying certain scouts have compared his client to Jeremy Lin recently, Bass also added, "I look around the league and believe wholeheartedly that there are as many as fifteen teams that can use Tony in their backcourt rotation."
The Knicks were not only able to bring in a more than capable replacement for Lin in Raymond Felton, but also signed Hall of Fame bound guard Jason Kidd and Argentina's Pablo Prigioni to help man the floor general duties next season.
New York may look steady at the position now, but given Kidd's age (he missed 18 games in the lockout-shortened NBA season), and Prigioni's unproven track record in The Association (he will make his NBA debut at age 35), the team may have no choice but to explore different alternatives as next season progresses.
It may be nice to have Taylor Jr. waiting in the wings. Because the Knicks own a direct NBA D-League affiliate in the Erie BayHawks, it may be sensible to give the young guard an opportunity on the squad in order to keep close watch. Both Taylor Jr. and Bass agree starting his career off in the D-League would be a good opportunity.
With that in mind, Taylor Jr reflected positively about the possibility of playing for his hometown squad. He added, "Playing for the Knicks would be a dream come true. I'd do my best to stay on the team. Growing up in a household that just loved New York sports, and having idolized John Starks as one of my favorite players, playing for the New York native team would be just great."
The Knicks are expected to be amongst a few NBA teams taking in a workout from Taylor Jr. and other notable NBA prospects this week.
NBA fans can catch the GWU product displaying his talents this Saturday afternoon (7/28) at Adelphi University. He'll be one of the many up and coming prospects playing in the Malone Mulhall Benefit Game.
Recognizing the great cause, Taylor Jr. said he was looking forward to honoring the memory of Jamie & Paige Malone, as well as Michael Mulhall, all of whom lost their lives in a tragic 2010 car accident. The guard added, "I'm really excited to play in this game. It's great to see what the community has done to recognize the special efforts of all three young adults and their work with Camp ANCHOR."
You can see Taylor Jr. play alongside the likes of Scott Machado and the Spurs' Danny Green by purchasing a ticket for Saturday's matchup at the MMBG's website.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
As a young and talented NBA prospect, Vernon Goodridge has been doing what he can to keep the dream of making it to The Association alive.
The Brooklyn native played overseas in Ukraine last season, averaging 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. He's a high-flying, athletic forward whom many believe is right on the cusp of breaking into the league.
The Knicks are among the teams that certainly see enough promise in Goodridge. The team has kept him on the radar since 2010 and scouted him multiple times since.
Talking about his workouts for his hometown squad, Goodridge said, "Each time I work out for the Knicks, I feel like I get a little better. I try to show my skills in regard to rebounding the ball and my shot-blocking ability. The second time I went out there, I wanted to show what I could do without the ball too. It's a difficult situation because right off the bat, most people want to come out and take that first shot. I'm a patient person and can play well regardless."
Growing up, Goodridge said he tried to become explosive and admired defensive all-star Ben Wallace. The 27 year-old also talked about his skill set, saying he tries to model his game after a couple of local favorites. He added, "Well my favorite player is Amar'e Stoudemire. I try to work the pick and roll effectively and be as good as he is at it. Tyson Chandler is obviously an excellent defensive player, so I try to work some of that into my game too."
After struggling on the defensive end for many years, the Knicks brought in Chandler and experienced a world of difference. Chandler came to the Big Apple fresh off winning an NBA championship with the Mavericks in 2011, and made it his mission to change the culture in New York's locker room.
After hovering around a top-10 ranking in defensive efficiency all season long, the Knicks will surely look to continue embracing that defensive mentality next season. Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas will don orange and blue once again, both ready to help the team maintain a strong defensive attack through 48 minutes.
Even with all three big men in the fold, New York will keep their eyes open after forfeiting Jared Jeffries in the Raymond Felton/Thomas trade. By making the promise to bring 28 year old Chris Copeland into training camp, the Knicks further proved the grind for a player like Goodridge never stops if the dream is still alive.
Though he's scheduled to play overseas once again next season, NBA fans can still get a glimpse of what Goodridge can do as he hits the hardwood for a great cause this Saturday afternoon, July 28th.
The hometown kid will be playing in the Malone Mulhall Benefit Game at Adelphi University. The great event is held to honor Michael Mulhall, as well as Jamie and Paige Malone, all of whom lost their lives in a tragic car accident in 2010.
Goodridge is playing in the contest for the second year in a row, and talked about the great cause and getting a tune up by playing against talents like the Spurs' Danny Green and some other NBA Summer League standouts.
The big man added, "What happened was a tragic situation, but to help out anyway I can and support the good cause is important. I've lost friends in car accidents before, so I'm doing it for them also.
"And it's always good to see a lot of the guys playing in the game. I played with Danny a little bit in high school actually, and I play with [St. John's Red Storm alum] Justin Burrell all around New York City during the summertime. I'm just looking forward to another great experience like last year."
Fans can experience the entertaining contest firsthand while supporting the worthy cause by purchasing a ticket for the game by going to the MMBG's website.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The Knicks' roster continued to take proper shape on Tuesday as the team came to terms with former Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer on a one year contract.
It may be viewed by some fans as simply another domino falling in the Knicks' offseason plan of putting the right pieces in place, but Brewer is more than that. He's the perfect fit.
Brewer is exactly the type of player the Knicks needed in order to cap off a solid summer of acquisitions. As I noted in my latest work for The New York Times, the team was in desperate need of an extra shooting guard. It was important another wing come to the Big Apple, not only to help balance out the starting lineup, but to keep J.R. Smith and his offensive explosiveness on the bench.
Smith provides the Knicks with a significant boost every time he comes off the pine. Should he start on a regular basis, his offensive prowess would not only be lost amongst the stars, but he would also stand to take away significant touches from teammates like Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
By bringing in Brewer, New York added a defensive-minded guard who is able to match up with some of the league's better offensive talents. He'll do a nice job filling in for Iman Shumpert until "The Rook" returns from his knee injury sometime in January.
Though Shump made strides last season and looked to be poised to take on a starting role, there's no denying the impact he had coming off the bench as a member of "Mobb Deep." With Brewer now in the fold, the Knicks' coaching staff has the ability to mix and match, playing with different lineups. Certain match-ups may call for Shumpert to help pace the second unit. There are certainly enough possibilities.
Signing for the veteran's minimum of approximately $1.4 million (all the Knicks really had to offer), the 27 year-old Brewer represents an excellent bargain. Signing a player of his caliber for that price is surely a steal. He's coming off a season in which he started 43 of 66 games for the best team in the Eastern Conference, boasting averages of 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 43% from the field.
Brewer's ability to play well without the ball, in addition to his steady defense, will help him mesh nicely with many of the Knicks' offensively-dominant players. That said, many of the team's fans were calling for a guard with a better shooting ability, ala Randy Foye.
Brewer has no problem getting to the basket effectively, but he lacks a consistent shooting touch from long range. Thus, when putting Brewer or Shumpert on the floor, the Knicks will still lack that guard who can help spread the floor and create better spacing for his teammates. Landry Fields wasn't the best shooter from deep, but his offensive abilities still appear to surpass those of Brewer.
Having recognized that, it's tough to argue how stupendous an acquisition Brewer is for the price. The Knicks were justified in allowing Fields to flock to Toronto after signing his lucrative offer sheet. For the little the team loses on the court in playing Brewer in place of Fields, they'll gain in peace of mind (in regard to not matching Fields' offer) seeing how capable of a replacement Brewer will be.
Monday, July 23, 2012
As solid as J.R. Smith was for the Knicks last season, the big impact he made was largely in part due to the fact he came off the bench. Able to provide his team with a boost later in games, the swingman wouldn't have the same effect if New York chose to start him.
I make the case (a rather strong one too, if I might add) for the Knicks to keep Smith a reserve in order to maximize his contributions, in my latest piece for The New York Times.
It is crucial to the team’s success that Anthony and Stoudemire find a way to mesh. Sharing the ball and developing a balance is key. New York is hoping Felton can help the pair connect the dots. Over the last season and a half, this has proved difficult enough, but adding Smith (who averaged 11.5 shot attempts per game, rather close to Stoudemire’s 13.9) to the equation only stands to complicate things.
Anthony and Stoudemire have enough firepower to pace the starting lineup. What’s more, Smith showed last season that he could continue pacing the second unit. At starting shooting guard, the Knicks are better off targeting a defensive-minded player who can play 15 to 20 minutes a game before heading to the bench in favor of Smith.
The Nets proved such players are still attainable at the right price, signing Keith Bogans on Thursday.
Though Bogans is off the market, there are still plenty of other players the Knicks can target to fill the void at shooting guard. Which of these targets are attainable for the veteran's minimum salary, is the question.
Two of the more talked about players to potentially make their way to the Big Apple are Randy Foye and Carlos Delfino. Both players are coming off decent enough seasons with their respective teams. The Knicks have been intrigued by Foye for quite a while, and Delfino surely impressed them by the way he was able to pester Carmelo Anthony on defense last season.
Foye was apparently interested in joining the Knicks at this point last month, but that was before the team used its mini mid-level exception to sign Jason Kidd. It's unknown whether or not he would entertain an offer for the vet's minimum.
The 6'3 guard is a strong spot-up shooter who would help spread the floor nicely for the Knicks. He averaged 11 points per game and shot 39% from downtown through 65 games (48 starts) for the Clippers last season.
While Delfino may not be as prolific a scorer as Foye, he can do more things on the court. Though he only averaged 9 points during the regular season and shot 36% from deep, Delfino grabbed 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He started 53 of 54 games played for the Bucks.
What's more, Delfino is more than just a spot shooter. The 6'7 swingman can drive to the basket and use his frame to defend an array of different opponents, as evidenced in his efforts on Anthony.
One would expect both Foye and Delfino to warrant more money in the open market. As this hasn't quite been the case, either player is a possibility to accept a lesser offer from the Knicks for a bigger opportunity and chance to start.
Given his size and varied skill set, Delfino appears to stand as a better and more versatile fit. Those interested in seeing exactly what he can do can tune into the Olympics, where Delfino is paired up in the Argentina backcourt with newest Knickerbocker Pablo Prigioni.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
As KnicksJournal.com reported last month, Spurs guard and Long Island native Danny Green will lead the way as an array of young basketball talent hits the hardwood in memory of three terrific lost individuals.
The Malone Mulhall Benefit Game will host its second annual contest this coming Saturday, July 28th, at Adelphi University at 1PM EST. This great event is held to honor Michael Mulhall, as well as Jamie and Paige Malone, all of whom lost their lives in a tragic car accident in 2010.
All three spent honorable time helping kids with special needs at Camp ANCHOR.
Joining Green to help support the fantastic cause will be a wealth of rising talent, many of whom will be participating as they arrive fresh off successful stints in the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas.
Scott Machado, the popular young guard from Iona College who many Knicks fans were hoping would don orange and blue next season, will play in the contest for the first time. Though he went undrafted in last month's NBA Rookie Draft, Machado played well for the Rockets in Vegas this past week. He averaged 8.0 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.2 steals through five games and helped lead the Rockets to a 4-1 finish.
Returning to the MMBG for the second straight year will be Red Storm alums Justin Burrell & Paris Horne, as well as high-flying forward Vernon Goodridge.
Burrell averaged 6.2 points on 44% from the field and grabbed 4.4 rebounds per game for the Warriors' team in Vegas. His former St. John's University teammate, Horne, averaged 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Bobcats.
Goodridge, whom the Knicks have eyed for quite some time, averaged 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game while playing overseas in Ukraine last season.
Among the others joining the fun this Saturday will be former Golden State Warriors forward Chris Taft. NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin and Knicks broadcaster Mike Breen will also be in attendance, serving as celebrity coaches for the contests.
Fans can provide an assist to this phenomenal cause and enjoy a great day of basketball entertainment, simply by purchasing a ticket for this Saturday's event by clicking here.
Proceeds from the game will be donated to the "Jamie & Paige Malone Foundation" and "Michael Mulhall Univeristy of Scranton Scholarship."
Saturday, July 21, 2012
But in order to bring in much of their new talent, many of the team's assets and/or exceptions needed to be sacrificed. With a void or two still to fill, and a couple of roster spots open, where do the Knicks go from here?
New York will likely be turning their attention to a few attainable shooting guards, likely the ones willing to sign for the veteran's minimum. According to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling, the team is considering Sonny Weems, and there seems to be mutual interest.
Zwerling reports that Weems' agent (who also represents Jeremy Lin) feels as though his client would be a good fit for New York.
I couldn't agree more. Considering the limited options the Knicks have at this point, Weems would be a perfect fit because he's exactly the type of player they need. J.R. Smith may be the more prolific scorer, and may even play more minutes than any other incoming shooting guard, but the fact is Smith is stronger coming off the bench because is able to provide his team with a boost.
Weems is a player, who like Landry Fields, can blend much better with the starters. The former Raptors swingman is a good defender who can play well without the ball. Though he isn't the most efficient at helping spread the floor, Weems is a slasher who can score by driving to the basket. After averaging 9.2 points per game for Toronto during the 2010-11 season, he proved he isn't a liability on offense. Weems could certainly hold his own on the Knicks.
Prior to a Knicks-Raptors matchup during the 2010-11 season (Weems spent last season overseas due to the lockout), we here at KnicksJournal.com spoke with Raptors commentator (and father of former Knick Andy Rautins) Leo Rautins.
At that point in the season, Weems was excelling for the Raptors and even stepping up on the offensive end (ala Ronald "Flip" Murphy for Ray Allen on the Sonics in 203-04), due to some key injuries for his team. Rautins had this to say about the promising guard's potential:
"I don’t think Sonny is a major scorer, but he’ll get his opportunities. He’s best in transition and looks flashy when he attacks the basket. He falls into the trap of trying to be a jump shooter at times, which he’s not. I think he’s got to be a defensive presence for the Raptors, so he needs to step up in that regard. He’s had some games where he has stepped up and scored but now that teams are focusing in on him, I think he has to realize that it’s the little things that will really make his presence felt."
Rautins talks highly of Weems and actually makes it sound as though the swingman could do a lot of the same things Fields did for the Knicks. With Smith ready to don orange and blue for his first full season, New York doesn't need a whole lot from a second shooting guard. All that's necessary is someone who can balance the starting lineup and play solid defense while Smith is on the bench.
For the right price, Weems seems more than capable of doing that.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Knicks fans all across the globe are still expressing frustration over the team's decision to let Jeremy Lin go. It's clear no one wanted (or expected) Linsanity to come an end so very soon in the Big Apple.
Did the Knicks ultimately make the right call? They believed Lin's offer sheet from the Rockets was too pricey of a penny to pay for a player who had provided them with such a small sample size.
Perhaps if there were no other options out there, it would be more likely that Lin would be returning to the Knicks. That simply wasn't the case. In addition to luring in Hall of Fame bound point guard Jason Kidd to help lead the second unit, the Knicks also brought back Raymond Felton to serve as their quarterback.
With Felton's arrival and Lin's departure comes an ongoing debate that is sure to last the entire season. Who is the better point guard? Which one of these starters will have a bigger impact for their respective teams?
Felton sure seems to know his answer to the burning question. The newest Knickerbocker spoke to MSG Network in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon, firmly asserting that he is the better guard of the two.
And now it's your turn to make a prediction. Who do you think will have a better season: Raymond Felton or Jeremy Lin? It's time to let your voice be heard by Knicks Journal.
If you're interested in winning a cool Knicks prize (or two), then this is the contest for you! Take a gamble and attempt to guess what both Felton and Lin's averages will be in points, assists, and turnovers at midseason and the end of the season. The contestant with the most accurate stat guesses at the end of each period will win a prize. The trick is making those predictions before the season starts.
Make sure to tweet me @KnicksJournal or e-mail me at email@example.com with your entries. Good luck!
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Though the Knicks have plenty of new additions heading into training camp next season, our friend Seth Rosenthal notes that the team, nevertheless, also has a few roster spots to fill as well.
One player vying for one of those coveted spots is Chris Copeland. Shortly after joining the Knicks' Summer League team, the forward also penned a non-guaranteed deal that will get into him into training camp.
While he's only donned orange and blue through three contests (with the fourth about to be underway in Vegas), Copeland has shown potential. He currently owns averages of 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. What's more, the Colorado product has also shot 47.1% from the field.
It's still early, but Copland is already beginning to give the Knicks an idea of what he can do. He's able to score, not only due to a decent jumper, but also because of his physicality around the rim. He's agile enough to finish under the basket on the offensive end, and can use his lengthy frame to cover various defenders too.
Copeland has talent; there's no denying that. His skill set should draw comparisons to a player like Carl Landry. The Knicks' forward can do an array of things, but although he plays aggressively, seems to have difficultly pulling down rebounds. Nevertheless, with Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas all already part of the team's front-court depth court, adding a bit of a quicker big man may not hurt.
No longer the definition of a traditional prospect, Copeland is now 28 years of age and has spent parts of the past two seasons playing overseas in Belgium. With the Knicks' looking to build a more mature team that is poised to win now, Copeland may fit right in. Though he would still come to the Big Apple with a wealth of experience playing professional basketball, he would also be a rather cheap option due to his lack of opportunity in the NBA to date.
The Knicks took a similar chance on James White, who signed a guaranteed contract and is playing in Summer League as well after spending time in Italy. With a couple more spots to fill, Copeland may fit the bill as the type of player the team is looking for.
"Linsanity" has come to a close in the Big Apple. Jeremy Lin is no longer a member of the New York Knicks' organization.
Now that you've had time to weep and wipe your tears away, let us focus on much more positive things. Though Lin is indeed gone from the equation, the Knicks already have two worthy point guards more than capable of filling the void.
The time is now for fans to put their faith in both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. While it's devastating to lose a player like Lin, largely in part due to his remarkable story, the Knicks are still in a very good position to move forward and win now.
Both point guards arrive in the Big Apple at very interesting points in their careers. Likely to be named New York's starting floor general, Felton returns to the Knicks following an unexpected end to his first tenure. Just as Felton's star was shining brightest, the seven-year NBA veteran was shipped to Denver as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
Since averaging 17.1 points and 9.0 assists through 54 contests during the 2010-11 season with the Knicks, the last season and a half (with the Nuggets and Blazers, respectively), has been a bumpy ride for Felton. He failed to earn a starting role in Denver, and subsequently had trouble building consistency as he struggled with conditioning in Portland. "Rip City" clearly was not where Felton wanted to be, as recent pictures of the North Carolina product suggest he's far from being in ideal playing shape.
But sufficient motivation goes a long way. Felton is now part of a team that is prepared to make a run at an NBA title, and much of their fate rests on his shoulders. Returning to New York for a chance to finish what he started should help Felton get into the right state of mind. Knowing he now has a shot at redemption, the guard can find motivation in the success he and Amar'e Stoudemire had in the pick & roll, elevating the play of them both like never before.
Motivation happens to be exactly what lured Kidd to the Big Apple. Hungry for a second championship trophy of his own, the Hall of Fame bound point guard made a smart move by joining what stands to be the most competitive team the Knicks will put on the floor in years.
Though Kidd is coming off a season in which he averaged career lows in both points (6.2) and assists (5.5), he still put up impressive numbers during the postseason. By averaging 11.5 points. 6 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, he proved there's still enough left in the tank to allow him to come up clutch in big moments. Taking a secondary role, to Felton, should help Kidd stay fresh for when the Knicks need him most.
With ringing endorsements from the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and Stoudemire flowing in, it's safe to say the Knicks are more than confident in the abilities of their new point guards. A return to greatness is within the team's grasp.
The players are confident and ready to excel with both Felton and Kidd, and now it's the fans' turn to make the adjustment. Jeremy Lin's tenure in New York City may be all but a memory now, but the future remains bright for the Knicks.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
That said, those fans attempting to convince themselves that Lin was in fact not worth his heft $25.1 million, three-year contract are using Lin's choice not to play in this past season's postseason as justification.
With so much at stake against the Miami Heat, many expected Lin to power through the pain, especially after self-proclaiming himself at 85% ready during the playoffs.
Apparently Knicks owner James Dolan and Lin's teammates were not in favor of the mass majority's mentality.
Shortly after learning his fate, Lin spoke with Sports Illustrated, not only to express his preference to have continued donning orange and blue, but also to assert he was continuously discouraged from rushing back during the Knicks' first round playoff matchup.
The last time Lin talked to Knicks owner James Dolan was right before Game 5 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, when New York was down, 3-1, to eventual NBA champion Miami. Lin, who had suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee, had been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season and had already missed the first four games of this playoff series. Now Dolan, with point guard Baron Davis also injured, wondered about Lin's availability. But the matter had already been settled. "Every single vet on our team that has been in the league longer than five years pulled me aside and told me that I shouldn't play," Lin says. "And I had arguments with them about why I should."
Dolan -- who didn't talk to Lin often but had generally been "really nice to me" --wound up expressing support. "I have plans for you in the future," Lin recalls the owner saying. "This is a long-term investment. Don't rush back."
Given how much passion Knicks fans have for the Harvard graduate, it should be easy to believe he wanted to succeed in the Big Apple. Lin not only fed off The Garden's electricity and energy, but furthermore shared their hunger for something great in New York City.
He would have played if he could have. However, with Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert also both hurt, perhaps Lin's teammates had realized that the Knicks' chances of legitimately competing against the Heat were already dwindling.
Regardless, it's time to move on from "Linsanity." The Knicks now have a point guard hungry for redemption in Raymond Felton, and another hungry for a second championship title in Jason Kidd. The team will be alright in their hands.
As Knicks fans all around the nation continue to mourn the departure of Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets, one fan has taken to YouTube to express his own frustration and sadness.
If you find yourself depressed and feeling blue, go ahead and sing along to this humorous parody of Gotye's hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know," appropriately titled, "Jeremy Lin That I Used to Know."
The guys at "The NOC TV" never fail to produce amusing clips for sports fans. They've even enlisted injured Knicks point guard Baron Davis to help out in the past. Following the initial outbreak of "Linsanity," the funny group also surprised fans with a hit called "Lin on Me."
So, as you try and cope with the Harvard graduate's departure, sit back, take a deep breath, and sing along to the catchy and perhaps calming tune above.
As quickly as "Linsanity" took over all of New York City, it seems as though it's come to an end just as fast.
Just twenty-five starts in, and Jeremy Lin's Knicks tenure officially (somewhat shockingly) came to a close as the team opted not to match the guard's $25.1 million offer sheet from the Houston Rockets.
Though the Knicks had publicly made Lin a top priority heading into the offseason, a change in offered contract terms (from an originally reported four-year, $28.8 million deal to the new three-pact instead) by the Rockets seemed to do Knicks' brass in. With ramifications already high as New York looks prepared to dive head-first into luxury tax territory, Lin's salary in the third year of the contract (an estimated $14.9 million) may have been too poisonous of a pill for the team to swallow.
But was the decision not to keep Lin in the fold purely financial? Were tensions between the two sides running amuck following the bold change in contract terms? Or perhaps the Knicks simply didn't believe Lin was worth such a substantial investment, given his small sample size to date as a starting point guard.
Nothing can be determined for sure (or completely ruled out, for that matter) until when/if team officials opt to comment further on their decision not to roll the dice on Lin for a second time.
During his time as the Knicks' starting floor general, Lin averaged an astonishing 18.2 points and 7.7 assists per game. He not only stepped up when the team needed it most (in fact leading the way to a seven-game winning streak in February), but also helped elevate the play of multiple teammates, most notably Landry Fields and Steve Novak. Both Lin and Fields were also honored as members of the "Rising Stars Challenge" during NBA All-Star Weekend.
In Houston, Lin will not only have continued opportunities to shine, but perhaps an even better shot at making the All-Star team. While this may be pre-marure to say based on Lin's still developing talent-level, the large Asian fan-base in the city (largely due to Yao Ming's Rockets tenure) just may be enough to propel Lin to such an accomplishment.
Would Lin's growing popularity and fame have become an issue in the Knicks locker room? It's difficult to say. Nevertheless, Lin now has a team of his own to help lead. The Harvard graduate is certainly a nice starting piece, especially should the Rockets still aim to eventually acquire Dwight Howard.
Whether or not Lin will be able to maintain the level of play which he had during the outburst of "Linsanity" remains to be seen. That said, there's no denying his efficient play was infectious for the Knicks, and the electricity and excitement surrounding what he would be next just oozed out of The Garden crowd each and every night.
Both Lin's local and international fame were on such a level, that it was even rare for a big market like New York City to encounter such a phenomenon Who knows what sponsorships and marketing campaigns await him in Houston, but make no mistake they would have continued to rack up in the Big Apple as well.
The money Lin stood to consistently make the Knicks in endorsements may have been enough for others to justify paying such a high price for an otherwise arguably unproven player. By not matching Lin's offer sheet, New York proved with their actions that they simply did not believe that.
Regardless of what the fans demanded, there were obviously pros and cons to both retaining Lin or allowing him to walk. Hopefully the Knicks will, at the very least, provide its fan-base with some sort of an explanation either way.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Losing Lin would be devastating, to say the least. His impact and value both on and off the court makes him a key potential piece to the puzzle moving forward. Whether he played alongside Felton or simply shared time at the point guard position, Lin would be likely to continue his positive contributions.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Harvard graduate's return, however, the Knicks have undeniably been aggressive in aiming to improve the squad this summer. By surrounding their stars with veteran role players like Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Thomas, New York has begun to prove they are dedicated to a "win now" mentality.
That is because veterans (along with defense) ultimately win championships. No longer headlining attractions, the likes of Kidd and Camby are poised to help spell players like Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler with key contributions off the bench.
Whether a player from the core group the Knicks are building is coming in to help accomplish something special, or simply returning to a familiar place, many of these guys have something in common. Many from this group have a "New York State of Mind."
A Brooklyn native himself, Anthony pushed his way to the Big Apple with the goal of bringing a championship title to his hometown in mind. Hungry for his chance to shine under the bright lights, Stoudemire was a pioneer of sorts when he began a domino effect by being the first prominent player to take a chance on the Knicks and their effort to return to greatness.
Both players have an immense amount pride not only in themselves and what they're trying to accomplish, but also succeeding on behalf of the city.
But the pride and hope for something special in New York City doesn't stop there. A fashion and photography connoisseur, Chandler brought his winning mentality to town not only to build his own individual brand, but also because he believes Knicks-nation deserves to experience greatness once again.
One of the more popular players the NBA has had in recent years, Kidd (like his former Mavericks teammate Chandler), brings a championship win to boast about in the locker room. Aside from understanding how to lead his team to the ultimate prize, the Hall of Fame point guard also knows how much this market values greatness, after helping the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in the past.
Though he certainly has both his hot and cold streaks, J.R. Smith embraces The Garden crowd either way. The Freehold, New Jersey native enjoys playing in front of his family and fans on a nightly basis. What's more, he feeds off of the fans' energy and thrives in the heat of the big moments. The Knicks may ride and die with the swingman at times, but Smith is a big time player.
While Steve Novak is a small-town kid himself, he too has become a fan-favorite, able to pace the second unit by making it rain from long-range off the bench. Both Smith and Novak struggled for New York in last season's playoffs, and are certainly coming back hoping to prove they can part of something bigger than the city has seen in quite a while.
Though many members of this Knicks squad are different since Felton last donned orange and blue in 2010, he should fit right in with this group as well. Traded perhaps pre-maturely, Felton returns to New York craving at a chance at redemption, hoping to pick up right where he left off, spearheading a successful and surprising run.
And then there's Camby and Thomas, a pair of veteran players who know the sweet smell and taste of the Big Apple success all too well. Two key components to the Knicks' Eastern Conference Championship in 2000, both big man are surely to be in everyone's ears, reminding them how gratifying winning in New York and satisfying this hungry fan base will be.
It would be great if Jeremy Lin were to come along for the ride, but should he not return, at least the future still looks bright for New York. Bringing in a few proven veterans amongst their star power, the Knicks have only built on their already present success. The core group formed is not only hungry as ever to win it all, but seems to understand how important it is to a market like the Big Apple.
Monday, July 16, 2012
With the media and fans alike so concerned with whether or not the Knicks will match Jeremy Lin's offer sheet with the Rockets, few are pondering how the newly re-acquired Raymond Felton will fare in his second Big Apple stint.
Many people are distraught over the Knicks (potentially and/or likely) losing Lin, but should he flock to Houston, at least New York has brought in a more than capable point guard to fill the void.
Take a second to forget which floor general you may prefer, and explore the potential positive contributions of Felton.
The returning Knickerbocker has been a consistent producer throughout his seven-year career (owning averages of 13.4 points, 6.7 assists, and 1.4 assists). Though Felton's initial elevated play with the Knicks was widely credited to Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, the fact is the point guard had developed strong chemistry with his teammates just like Lin has.
Lin may have been a more efficient scorer due to his aggressive penetration, but perhaps Felton is just as good of a playmaker for this team. As Lin's offense surged, other Knicks took secondary roles. While some may say Lin simply stepped up because others were struggling, Amar'e Stoudemire still only averaged 18 points per game in the month of March last season, despite shooting an impressive 56% from the field.
There's no denying Lin stepped up in a major way when the Knicks needed it most, but it can't be said he meshed perfectly with the team's full roster either. During his own tenure with the Knicks, Felton displayed good energy and a nice rhythm during the pick & roll with Stoudemire. The pair worked so well together that STAT was considered an M.V.P. candidate through the early goings of the 2010-11 season.
With more bonafide scorers in town than there were during his first stint with the team, the pressure would be off for Felton to score as much. Instead, the need is present for a distributor. His job in New York would not only consist of helping some of his teammates along, but also to get out of the way and let Carmelo Anthony do his thing when he's on a hot streak.
When the Brooklyn native is playing his best, he's a surefire M.V.P. candidate as well (as he was during last season's final month). Felton needs to allow Anthony to be Anthony, and continue to keep the ball moving when it's not in Melo's hands.
A point guard like Felton may be just the guy who the Knicks need to help bridge the gap between STAT and Melo. Anthony can create his own offense, and Felton can be there to create opportunities for Stoudemire. This is where Lin seemed to fail (albeit perhaps due to a lack of a longer opportunity to do so. The Knicks may never know.)
In addition to Stoudemire, Felton also has prior experience playing with J.R. Smith (in Denver with the Nuggets) and Tyson Chandler (in Charlotte with the Bobcats). It's certainly a possibility that Felton can help elevate the play of his other new teammates as well.
Both Lin and Chauncey Billups made positive contributions playing for the Knicks during parts of the past two seasons. The difference between that pair and Felton, however, is that both Lin and Billups were scoring point guards. They can do it well, but the Knicks appear better suited for a natural playmaker.
Is Felton the ideal choice for a New York City playmaker, especially with Deron Williams playing in Brooklyn? Probably not. Felton is obviously no Steve Nash, either. That said, he's a solid floor general who not only knows how to get his teammates involved, but can do it under the bright lights of The Garden, too.
Regardless of whether or not Lin returns (and no matter which guard you may prefer), Felton is still nevertheless a solid option for a floor general. If he's able to pick up where he left off in New York, he stands to help lead the Knicks to great things.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
After being informed the Rockets' poison pill (re: Jeremy Lin) became that much more deadly with the altered terms, the Knicks took to the phones. Working feverishly to seek out other potential alternatives, the team didn't have to look very far. With that, a former Knick and rumored offseason target will be returning to the Big Apple.
The Knicks agreed to a sign & trade deal with the Blazers for Raymond Felton, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Though details regarding Felton's contract are yet to be officially released, it seems Felton will be returning, along with Kurt Thomas (another fan-favorite).
In return, the Knicks will sign & trade Jared Jeffries and ship him to Portland along with center Dan Gadzuric. Sources tell Berman New York is now NOT expected to match Lin's offer sheet.
Despite Lin being a favorite to return to the Knicks all summer, due to all the "Linsanity," there's still been a Lin vs. Felton debate amongst the media and fans this offseason. While Felton is a more proven player who would likely cost less, the impact Lin had on New York City this past season is undeniable. He helped bring the electricity back to the Garden in the most shocking of ways. His popularity rose, and his still growing fame stands to make the Knicks a lot of money going forward. The team took a chance on him once, and were widely expected to take another one by allowing him to play out a full season as a starting floor general.
There's no denying how well Lin played during his exciting outburst, but given the small sample size, it's difficult to know which Lin the Knicks would truly get if they re-signed him. Would it be the one who rose to fame (and apparently, fortune) all due to "Linsanity?" Or is it perhaps the Lin who struggled to break through against contending teams like the Miami Heat? A more likely scenario would appear to be the Lin who, although he took time, was beginning to find his rhythm amongst the Knicks' stars.
With little certain, however, it's possible the Knicks would rather not bite the bullet and take the risk.
While Felton may not be a star, he's a consistent player who has experience playing with Knicks players like Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, and Tyson Chandler. For those solely comparing Felton and Lin in regard to individual talent, consider this: Stoudemire was playing at an M.V.P. level with Felton running the show in 2010-11.
If STAT is able to return to star form alongside Felton, isn't adding the former Knick in lieu of Lin worth the swap?
Of course, there's always the outside possibility that New York retains Lin anyway. Financially, the ability to bring Lin back is not affected by the acquisition of Felton, as the team owns Lin's Bird Rights. They can go over the cap to sign him, if so desired.
With a glaring void at the shooting guard position (with Landry Fields officially now a Raptor), perhaps the Knicks are gearing up to play two point guards at once. They'd certainly have enough tandems to choose from, should Jason Kidd, Felton, Lin, and Pablo Prigioni all be in the fold.
The And-One: Though Felton is obviously the headliner of this deal, fans seem to be "upset" over the fact that the Knicks are losing Jeffries. Keep in mind the team is not "wronging" the forward in any way, shape, or form. Jeffries is not going to Portland against his will. As a free agent, Jeffries NEEDS to agree to a deal with the Blazers in order for the trade to go through. Obviously it appears as though he's done this.
What's more, Jeffries would have probably earned the veteran's minimum playing in New York or probably anywhere else for that matter. He now stands to earn a bit more of a lucrative contract due to all the salaries needing to match up between the two teams.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Forget Deron Williams, Jason Kidd, and even the ever so popular Jeremy Lin. The Knicks Blog's Tommy Dee is New York City's best playmaker!
I joined my good pal Tommy earlier today, jumping on TKB.tv at SNY Studios to break down the Knicks offseason. Watch the clip above as Tommy and I examine the potential impact of some of New York's new and returning players.
Much thanks to Tommy and the crew at SNY. In addition to continuing to check out TheKnicksBlog.com, you can watch another TKB.tv segment here, as Tommy and his guests reflect upon the Dwight Howard saga.
Fresh off his ESPY award win for "Best Breakthrough Athlete," Jeremy Lin was at the Houston Rockets' summer league headquarters earlier today to sign a highly anticipated offer sheet.
As anticipated as the contract itself may have been by the Knicks, the terms are certain to take the team for a loop.
Instead of the widely reported $28.8 million, four year offer Lin was expected to receive, the Harvard grad instead signed a pact for three years, worth $25.5 million. Though he is still scheduled to earn $5 million in the first year of the contract, and $5.2 million in the second, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN New York that the third year (now an expiring one) of Lin's contract will be worth a whopping $14.8 million.
For weeks, there has been talk about the Rockets slipping the Knicks a poison pill in relation to Lin's offer sheet. To me, paying anywhere near that much money (be it $25 million or $29 million, it really doesn't make a difference) is still unwarranted granted Lin's limited (as remarkable as it may have been) time on the court. After "Linsanity" begin to tone itself down as New York's other stars returned to play, Lin ultimately took some time finding his rhythm before getting hurt. Thus, it's difficult to know for certain what kind of production the Knicks will see from him on a consistent basis.
Having said that, it's easy to understand that in addition to his skills, Lin's value is boosted by his popularity and ongoing fame. A phenomenon like himself and a massive market like the Big Apple need one another.
With the bit of uncertainty clouding Lin's future production, the three-year deal, coincidentally enough, seems more accommodating to the Knicks.
The first two years of both the earlier reported, and current contract offer, are quite reasonable for a player of Lin's talent, skill, and popularity. The initial contract offer would have bumped Lin's salary up to somewhere near $9 million for each of the latter two seasons. Having not played a full season with his current opportunity as starter, who's to say he'll be worth anywhere close to that amount?
In this newly reported three-yeat deal, Lin still spends two seasons playing for a salary that appears more than reasonable. Even though in the final year of this offer, his salary skyrockets up to $14.8 million, Lin at least becomes more valuable as a larger expiring contract. What's more, the team would only commit to paying him a bloated salary in one season, rather than two.
In addition, though Lin's salary in the last year of the new contract stands to weigh down the Knicks' payroll, so do a number of other players' salaries. Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler (not to mention Jason Kidd and potentially Marcus Camby too) will all be under contract with the Knicks during Lin's final year.
What should that tell Knicks fans? The franchise not only has faith in the players currently on the roster moving forward, they are virtually married to these players through three years anyway. Barring any substantial trade, the Knicks are going to roll with the present core.
With so many larger salaries already on the payroll, the team can't possibly be holding any legitimate hopes to earn cap flexibility following the second year of Lin's contract. Paying him more doesn't appear to solely affect the team's potential improvement, rather just propels them to the luxury tax.
By moving forward with a "win now" mentality, however, the Knicks had to be aware that paying the tax may have been a "consequence." With so many fans hungry for success, the franchise may just have to embrace the fact that the team plays in a big market and bite the bullet.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
"Linsanity" continued its national dominance last night, helping Knicks guard Jeremy Lin take home an ESPY Award for "Breakout Athlete."
Granted, while Lin's outburst onto the NBA scene came on perhaps the league's biggest and brightest stage (Madison Square Garden), it's worth noting that the Harvard grad's efforts (during which he propelled New York to a miraculous seven-game winning streak) are still getting recognized.
In addition to his influence as a worldwide phenomenon, Lin's role as floor general of the Knicks proved to be vital to the team's success from the moment he hit the hardwood. Though he rose above, coming out of nowhere to play at a superstar level for a couple of weeks, the guard's impact continued to be felt as he found his proper place, meshing well the team's existent stars as the season progressed.
After losing out on Steve Nash and choosing not to pursue a secondary target like Raymond Felton, New York ultimately let other teams set the market for Lin. By doing so, the team allowed the Rockets to attempt to right their wrong of cutting him less than a year ago. Lin and Houston came to terms on an offer sheet worth $28.8 million over four years.
With the moratorium period now over, the clock will begin to tick for the Knicks once Lin actually signs the offer sheet. The question will become whether or not they'll match it. Or is that really a worthwhile question at all?
Not only has the team made it well known they've planned on matching any offer Lin receives since day one, but Knicks head coach Mike Woodson seemed positive of the young stud's return while addressing the media in Las Vegas.
Lin certainly appeared like a sure piece to the puzzle in Woodson's plans for next season, with the coach even going as far as revealing he plans on starting Lin and bringing Hall of Fame bound guard Jason Kidd off the bench.
Kidd signed with the Knicks, of course, in part because he plans on mentoring Lin.
Aside from the endless number of marketing and promotional opportunities ($$$$) Lin will continue to receive as a member of the Knicks, he drew the fans in and delivered electricity and excitement to the Garden. His presence is certainly felt on the hardwood as well as off of it.
Though such a financial commitment can appear a bit steep for a player who only had a few months to prove himself, retaining Lin stands to pay dividends for the Knicks in a number of ways. He's a very popular and talented player who has shown the ability to help the team succeed. With his inexperience being his only downfall, a championship winning playmaker like Kidd is there to balance things out.
If the Knicks are lucky, Kidd will pass on enough of his skill and intelligence (before his own carer is over) to Lin. The team seems to have enough faith in him to call him their point guard of the (foreseeable) future, so hopefully it'll be Kidd who helps ready him for such a role.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Since July 1st, the Knicks have gone to work, using almost all possible assets to not only re-sign their own talents, but also lure in veteran role players to surround their stars.
New York is proving they are dedicated to building a winner for the present, shoring up the roster and valuing depth, aiming to follow suit and compete with the Miami Heat. Even with Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, and Marcus Camby all ready to don orange and blue next season, the Knicks still have a couple voids to fill.
Over the past two seasons, the team has seen players like Landry Fields, Shawne Williams, Josh Harrellson, and Novak step up in big ways to make unexpected impacts. Though most of the rotation seems set, the Knicks are still looking for a couple diamonds in the rough this time around, too.
With that search comes the official signing of James White. After spending the last three seasons in Italy, the 29 year old White returns to the NBA with ten games experience. White is an athletic swingman whose high-flying dunking ability stands to excite the Garden crowd on a nightly basis, ala Iman Shumpert or Smith.
Though it was quite a while ago, White's most substantial NBA contributions came in 2006-07 when he averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds though six contests with the Spurs.
Given the Knicks' willingness to take chances on young and/or unproven players, White has the chance to find success in New York. How much of an impact he will have remains to be seen, but the opportunity to contribute is there given the team's lack of depth at the two-guard position. Though fans are currently comparing White to Gerald Green, who is coming off a breakout season with the Nets, earlier comparisons via Draft Express listed White's best and worst case scenario as Andre Iguodala and Qyntel Woods.
Also reportedly getting ready to join the team is European guard Pablo Prigioni, who seems to be a favorite of our friend Seth Rosenthal from "Posting & Toasting."
Though Prigoni is already 35 years old, he's apparently still able to push the tempo, prepared to succeed in a run and gun offense. With Jeremy Lin and Kidd likely to man most of the minutes at the point guard position, there will likely be less pressure on Prigoni to succeed. Nevertheless, his skill set makes him look like a worthwhile option to take a risk on as the Knicks look for previously uncovered NBA talents.
With Smith, a crucial piece off the bench last season, currently pencilled in as the team's starting two-guard, the Knicks surely hold hope that both White and Prigioni (perhaps in a smaller lineup) can log solid minutes to help shore up the hole at the position. Either way, depth is key and that's what the team appears dedicated to compiling.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Have no fear: when Iman Shumpert returns from his knee injury in January, "Mobb Deep" will still be intact.
The Knicks continued to make offseason strides on Monday, not only luring back old fan-favorite Marcus Camby, but also agreeing to deals with both Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.
The team appeared to make re-signing both players (in addition to Jeremy Lin) a priority from the get go, but had a bumpy ride figuring out how it could be done.
When the dust cleared, however, it was determined that both Novak and Lin would retain their bird rights, making it much easier for New York to retain either, or both of them, for the right price. As for Smith, in addition to being able to secure a multi-year deal (if desired), he also stood to receive a 20% from last season on his next contract.
While Lin's fate with the team won't be revealed for a few days, the Knicks didn't cease going to work on new contracts for the other two. Novak will return to the Big Apple, following his breakout year, with a four-year contract worth $15 million. Receiving that mentioned raise, Smith will also return next season after agreeing to a one-year pact worth $2.8 million, with a player option for the following year.
Both Novak and Smith provided the Knicks with some much needed firepower off the bench during what was an exciting season.The two have complementary skills, with Novak able to spread the floor without the ball and Smith thriving on offensive with the rock in his hands. Smith can run the floor and pull up for a jumper, but should he not be open, Novak can often be found waiting around the perimeter to cash in on a sweet dime for a long-range bomb.
Though Novak is sure to continue pacing the team's second unit for quite a while, it's unclear what role Smith will be asked to fill next season. Despite his frustrating hot and cold streaks, the swingman is not only a strong offensive player, but also currently stands tall as the Knicks' best shooting guard.
By making the backup point guard and center positions higher priorities (and signing Jason Kidd and Camby to fill those voids), New York created a bit of a hole at shooting guard. Should the team opt not to match Landry Fields' offer sheet with the Raptors, Smith will be left to man the two-guard position, at least until Shumpert returns.
Perhaps the positives outweigh the negatives for the Knicks with Smith, providing them with enough faith in him to grant a much larger role.
It should be well-noted (and greatly appreciated by Knicks fans all around) the deals that both players took home are rather modest for players with their talent. Given the way NBA players are overpaid as teams attempt to outbid one another constantly, Novak and Smith each could've cashed in for more lucrative deals elsewhere. Instead, both are opting to stay in New York, not only to embrace the excitement and electricity that fills The Garden each and every night, but also for a better chance at a championship.
After watching the Miami Heat bring home the bacon just last month, it's surely still fresh in everyone's mind in New York what's needed to build a winner. Having depth from A to Z certainly helps a boatload, and both Novak and Smith more than begin to provide the Knicks with that.
By bringing back Novak and Smith, in addition to signing Kidd and Camby, have the Knicks done enough this offseason to make necessary improvements? Will they be able to compete with the team's elite teams, such as the Heat, Bulls, Thunder, and the re-emerging Lakers?
Much of that surely depends on Lin's fate with the team, but New York continues to make strong moves. With many assets and exceptions now gone, however, it'll be interesting to see how/if the team opts to address their void at shooting guard.
During his first tenure with the Knicks from 1998-2002, Marcus Camby was faced with beginning to fill the shoes of the oft-injured and ever aging Patrick Ewing. Despite the fans having such a high expectation for the center position, Camby filled in quite nicely, not only helping the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999, but averaging a double-double in each of his two latter seasons in New York.
From there, the big man embarked on an impressive career, so far highlighted by four All-NBA Defensive Team honors and an even a "Defensive Player of the Year" award in 2007. Though he's also led the league in blocks four times and has already accomplished so much, he is still in search of a championship trophy.
Ten years later, Camby is coming back to the Big Apple hoping to put that search to an end.
The Knicks re-acquired the fan-favorite on Monday by agreeing to a sign & trade deal with the Houston Rockets, according to Yahoo! Sports. In return, New York will ship Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, and Jerome Jordan to Houston. Also going the Rockets' way will be $2 million cash and two second-round picks (2014 and 2015).
Even at 38 years old, Camby is still able to provide a strong defensive presence. He is able to muscle his way around and grab rebounds using his physical frame. Pairing the one-time Knick up with Tyson Chandler at the center position is sure to provide opponents with substantial fear and frustration on a nightly basis.
Though Camby still represents one of the most celebrated Knickerbockers in recent years, on the surface it appears as though the team gave up a considerable amount of assets in order to get him back.
Consider this: the big man still averaged 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just 23 minutes per game last season. He certainly seems to have enough in the tank to make a considerable impact, and is able to do so in rather limited minutes off the bench at that. He provides the team with a much needed skill set, in addition to depth.
The long list of pieces and assets alike acquired by the Rockets in this deal seems like a long list. That said, Douglas became expendable after struggling to find rhythm as a floor general this season, and Jordan never really seemed to get a chance on the hardwood, be it justified or not. What's more, being in a big market like New York, the Knicks will always have enough money at their disposal, and thus, can trade/buy various other assets such as draft picks in the future.
Harrellson is the only piece it may hurt to part with. Originally drafted for his rugged physicality and defensive prowess while at Kentucky, the big man displayed somewhat of a shooting touch, filling in for Amar'e Stoudemire earlier in the season. His promise was refreshing and the potential he showed on both ends of the court made it appear as though he could ultimately help the Knicks off the bench.
Camby, who reportedly signed a three-year pact worth $13.2 million (only $10 million) will certainly have enough time to prove the Knicks did the right thing by taking a second chance on him.
Monday, July 9, 2012
After missing out on Steve Nash, the Knicks shifted gears, turning to a more realistic "plan B" by signing Jason Kidd.
Whether Kidd is acquired via a sign & trade with the Mavericks, or simply signed outright, remains to be seen. That said, New York expects to be able to bring in two worthy veterans (Kidd included) with the assets and exceptions they have available. Thus, the team has aggressively gunned for a Big Apple return for fan-favorite Marcus Camby.
Signing Kidd and (potentially) Camby would prove that the Knicks continue to take pages out of the Miami Heat's book for building a winner, signing experienced players who can step in as key role players around the team's stars. While this plan of action has proven to be successful for Miami, New York may need a little bit more to make it work for them.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are two very strong pieces to build around, but they don't quite match up to a duo like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in either skill or level of rapport. It doesn't appear as though it'll be as easy for the Knicks as it was the Heat (two seasons) to take home a championship.
Thus, the team needs stronger pieces around their core. With Landry Fields likely flocking to Toronto, and Iman Shumpert sidelined until at least January, there's a big void at the shooting guard position. In addition to targeting a secondary point guard and backup big man this offseason, the Knicks' other priorities seem to include re-signing the likes of Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, and J.R. Smith.
Smith certainly has the tools to be a solid player. He can fill it up offensively and is a very good on-ball defender. The New Jersey native clearly provided the Knicks with quite the boost off the bench, but would he be able to provide as positive as an impact as a starter?
I say no. Though his shooting touch was inconsistent at times, Smith was able to elevate his team because his offensive spark came while playing with the second unit. The Knicks could afford his poor shot selection because he was in fact the better offensive option off the bench. As a starter, he would stand to take shots away from Anthony, Stoudemire, and Lin on a regular basis. The team needs balance, and Smith is better at providing that by coming off the bench.
Fields and Shumpert both fit with the starting lineup due to their defensive prowess and ability to play well without the ball. Both players were athletic enough to cut to the basket, keeping defenders on their toes by constantly moving, prepared to cash in on sweet dimes from teammates. On the contrary, Smith thrives when the ball is in his hands.
With Smith representing the team's primary two-guard (assuming he returns), should the Knicks have made shooting guard a higher priority this offseason? The fans seem to think so, but even they only hold desperate hopes for a player like Randy Foye to come save the day by playing for the veteran's minimum. Such a solution seems unlikely.
With such a hole at such a vital position, will the Knicks be able to say their offseason was a successful one if the list of acquisitions is highlighted by Kidd and Camby? Will the team have done enough to improve and/or better certain weaknesses? If at the end of the summer, Smith is penciled in as the team's starting shooting guard, I'm not sure. Placing the veteran swingman in the starting lineup would not only create an imbalance to the first unit, but weaken the second one considerably.
Perhaps a solution (given the Knicks' limited options at this point) would be to start Smith, only to pull him shortly into games in favor of a Kidd and Lin backcourt. This would probably work out fine, but certainly isn't the best case scenario. Camby is a solid player and his return will be celebrated due to all the fan-appreciation for his earlier contributions, but the team still has a more pressing need at shooting guard than at the center position.
Given the potential Josh Harrellson displayed while filling in for Stoudemire this past season, it may have been more beneficial to roll the dice on him. Speaking of potential, however, the Knicks hold hope the athletic James White, who most recently played in Italy, can help soften the blow of losing a piece like Fields.
Whether he can remains to be seen.