Tag Archives: New York Knicks

2017-2018 Atlantic Division Projections

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X-Boston Celtics 51-31 (3)

For teams in the NBA who are really serious about rebuilding, they need to sit back and see what the Boston Celtics are doing. After the Celtics won the NBA Championship in 2008, they were able to remain as a title contender until 2013 when their age began to show. And instead of hanging on to players that were over the hill, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge immediately pushed the rebuild button as his team began the process of starting over.

Danny Ainge

Ainge’s first order of business was to find a head coach who was on board with his rebuilding plan and he found his man in former Butler Bulldogs men’s head basketball coach Brad Stevens. Stevens had never coached at the profession level and his first season in Boston only saw the Celtics win 25 games. However the Celtics would quickly be ahead of schedule in regards to rebuilding as in year two of the Stevens regime, they would be playoff bound. Last season the Celtics would win 53 games en route to winning the Atlantic Division Title as well as having the best record in the Eastern Conference. Boston would reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2012, and although that they were swept there by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the C’s have served notice to the rest of the NBA that they are once again ready to be a title contender.

Heading into the summer, Ainge knew that he had a team that was a good enough to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but what could he do in order to give the Cavaliers a run for their money?

Courtesy of a lopsided trade with the Brooklyn Nets in 2013, the Celtics acquired multiple first-round draft picks. And after the Nets the finished with the worst record in the NBA last season, they earned the first overall selection in the draft. However the Celtics had the option to swap first-round picks with Nets which they did. But Ainge wasn’t done wheeling and dealing as he made a deal just prior to the NBA Draft with the Philadelphia 76ers as he moved down to the third overall slot, and in the process he was able to obtain more draft picks.

Jayson Tatum

The Celtics would select Duke Blue Devils small forward Jayson Tatum who after averaging 16.8 points and 7.3 in his only collegiate campaign showed that he was ready to take his game to the next level. Tatum would add to that in the NBA’s Summer League as he was able to average 18.7 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Celtics as he gave them a glimpse of what to expect from him this season.

Ainge wasn’t done there as he pulled off a huge shocker when he was able to acquire All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cavs. Irving is just entering the prime of his career and he has been integral in Cleveland’s three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. However Irving has gotten tired of being in the shadow of small forward LeBron James.

In acquiring Irving from Cleveland, the Celtics parted with a pair of draft picks which includes a first-round pick for next year that originally was the property of the Nets, as well as small forward Jae Crowder, and point guard Isaiah Thomas. The past few years had seen Thomas morph into being the heart and soul of the Celtics due to his scoring ability as well as his fearlessness which endeared him to the Boston fans. However a hip injury put Thomas’ future with the Celtics in doubt, and when Irving was put on the trading block after letting the Cavs front office know of his desire to no longer be a member of the organization, the trade went down.

Kyrie Irving

What Irving gives the Celtics is a proven scorer who has shown that the bigger the stage, the more that he produces. For Irving’s six-year NBA career he has averaged 21.6 points per game. But Irving is not in that typical point guard mode as he is more of a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. However Irving should have no problem fitting into the offensive system that Stevens operates due to the fact that it comes down to ball movement, moving without the ball, and getting to the basket. Irving should have a big season for the Celtics as he looks to not only endear himself to the folks in Boston, but also show that he can succeed without LeBron.

Sandwiched in between drafting Tatum and obtaining Irving was the Celtics being able to sign free agent small forward Gordon Hayward. Hayward was one of the most coveted free agents over the summer after he averaged 21.9 points per game and helped the Utah Jazz reach the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2010. All signs pointed to Hayward not re-signing with the Jazz, and it appeared to be a slam dunk decision for him to join the Celtics as Stevens was his college head coach.

Hayward made his decision official on July 4 when he and the Celtics came to terms on a four-year deal for $128 million. What Hayward gives the Celtics is a point forward who has what it takes to excel in Stevens’ system. Hayward can move well without the basketball, while can also score, while making the people around him better. And Hayward’s ability to handle the basketball can take some pressure off of Irving while also allowing him to concentrate more on being a scorer.

However things would become bad for Hayward and the Celtics on opening night when he fractured his ankle. More than likely Hayward is done for the season, but luckily the Celtics do have depth in the front court, while this injury occurred at the beginning of the season as this team will still have time to gel.

Boston would also lose some depth in their backcourt when they traded guard Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons. In exchange for sending Bradley to Detroit, the Pistons received power forward Marcus Morris who provides with interior scoring as well as some toughness that they lost when they traded Crowder.

Marcus Smart

Boston still has guard Marcus Smart who has proved to be a valuable bench player, while also providing toughness to the squad. In 2016, the Celtics drafted small forward Jaylen Brown third overall and he showed flashes of his potential. And with the Hayward injury, he will be a valuable player due to his athleticism.

The Celtics also have veteran center Al Horford who will never be a player that will consistently get 20 points and 10 rebounds, but he is a guy that could give Boston 15 points and 8 boards, while his decade long experience in the NBA, as well as winning a pair of national championships collegiately with the Florida Gators should pay dividends.

It will take the Celtics some time to gel, but they should improve as the season goes along as they’ll seek to fill the void of Hayward’s absence.

Y-Toronto Raptors 50-32 (4)

The Toronto Raptors currently find themselves in their best stretch in franchise history. The Raptors have made the NBA Playoffs in each of the last four years which included making the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 2016. But after three straight Atlantic Division Titles, the Raptors finished second in the division last year due to a surge by the Boston Celtics. And as the Celtics appeared to have passed the Raptors in regards to being the team to beat in the Atlantic, will they have enough in their arsenal to keep up with them and the other top powers in the Eastern Conference?

Dwane Casey is set to begin his seventh season as the head coach of the Raptors and by far he has had the most successful tenure of any head coach in franchise history which is also a credit to team president Masai Ujiri who has put the right players in place in order for the team to have success.

Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan

The Raptors still possess one of the best backcourts in the Eastern Conference which consists of shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and point guard Kyle Lowry. The confidence level of DeRozan has continued to increase throughout his eight-year NBA career. Last year DeRozan averaged 27.3 points per game which was fifth in the NBA as he has become “the guy” in Toronto. DeRozan has never been known to be a perimeter shooter as he has only shot 28% from behind the three-point line for his professional career. But what DeRozan specializes in is getting buckets as he is one the quicker players in the NBA in regards to his first step which helps him to get to the basket.

It may not seem like it, but Lowry is set to begin his 12th NBA season and sixth with the Raptors. Lowry has become a steadying force for the Raptors at the point guard position which led to him agreeing to return to the club last summer after agreeing to a three-year deal for $100 million. But as good as Lowry and DeRozan have been for Toronto, who else will step up in order to make this a championship team?

Serge Ibaka

Last season saw the Raptors acquire power forward Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic. What Ibaka gives the Raptors is a stretch four who can knock down perimeter shots which opens up the lane for both Lowry and DeRozan. Center Jonas Valenciunas has been a project for the Raptors and he hasĀ  now turned into a player who can get 15 points as well as 10 rebounds per night. But will this frontcourt production be enough for Toronto to keep up with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Celtics in the Eastern Conference?

The schedule makers were not kind to the Raptors as they will begin a six-game road swing in late October. This stretch will see the Raptors face some of the top teams from the Western Conference which includes games against the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. The Raptors are still one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, however they are still not on the level of the Cavs.

New York Knicks 38-44

There was a time when the New York Knicks were one of the top teams in the NBA, but for their disgruntled fan base, that was a lifetime ago. Since 2005, the Knicks only have three playoff appearances, while each of the last three years has seen them lose at least 50 games. The Knicks have been the epitome of dysfunction which was further illustrated by the failed tenure of Phil Jackson as the team’s president. The Knicks have been nothing short of a circus with none of the key people within the organization on the same page, and it doesn’t appear to be that much better at Madison Square Garden heading into the new NBA season.

After Knicks owner James Dolan decided to part ways with Jackson in June, he decided to hire Steve Mills as the team’s president and Scott Perry as the general manager. Dolan decided to retain Jeff Hornacek as the Knicks head coach as he should finally have a chance to flex his basketball muscles.

Jeff Hornacek

Last year was Hornacek’s first year as the Knicks head coach and under him New York lost 51 games. A big reason for the Knicks struggles was that Jackson wanted Hornacek to operate under the umbrella of the triangle offense, while his system is more wide-open. But now with the Jackson debacle behind the Knicks, we should see a more wide-open brand of basketball being played at Madison Square Garden this season.

Another reason why this season shouldn’t be as stressful for the Knicks is that the team finally came to grips and traded small forward Carmelo Anthony. When the Knicks acquired Anthony from the Denver Nuggets in 2011, he immediately became their first true franchise player that they had since the days of Patrick Ewing. However Anthony and Jackson were never on the same page, and with the star small forward turning 33-years of age this past May, he wanted to go a team that would give him an opportunity to win an NBA Championship.

Last month the Knicks would trade Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder and in process they handed the keys to their franchise to power forward Kristaps Porzingis.

Kristaps Porzingis

In 2015, Porzingis was the fourth overall pick of the NBA Draft by the Knicks and it has not taken him that long to establish himself with the fans in the Big Apple. Last season Porzingis averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds, but with Anthony no longer in New York those numbers should increase. Coming into the NBA there were some scouts who compared Porzingis’ skill set to that of Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki. And the scoring ability of Porzingis as well as his prowess for passing will once again be a thing of beauty at Madison Square Garden.

In trading Anthony to the Thunder, the Knicks were able to acquire center Enes Kanter and small forward Doug McDermott. The last two seasons have seen Kanter used as a bench player in Oklahoma City, but he will be a starter in New York City. What Kanter gives the Knicks is a player that can score close to the basket, while also being able to consistently grab boards which was a category that New York flourished in last season as they averaged pulling 45.2 rebounds per game, and that was fifth in the NBA.

After McDermott was a three-time All-American for the Creighton Blue Jays, he has gone on to be a solid scorer coming off of the bench in the NBA. And with the scoring ability of Porzingis and Kanter, McDermott should get his fair share of open looks at the basket.

The Knicks were 19th in the NBA in assists last season and this will once again be a category that they’ll struggle in due to the struggles at the point guard position. The Knicks did sign veteran point guard Jarret Jack as this will be the ninth different NBA team that he’ll play for, but injuries have limited him over the past few years. The Knicks used a first-round pick on point guard Frank Ntilikina who was injured before he even signed a contract with contract with New York as that doesn’t bode well for him or the team.

This will be an interesting season for the Knicks as they will be good enough to take care of the also-rans in the NBA, but they will have their struggles versus the contenders.

Philadelphia 76ers 35-47

The Philadelphia 76ers are set to begin their 69th year as an NBA franchise. The 76ers have claimed three NBA Championships, while they’ve had some of the greatest players in league history such as Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Allen Iverson play for them. But the Sixers recent history has been marred by a philosophy which has revolved around “tanking”. Philadelphia has not made the playoffs since 2012, while they have only won 73 games over the last four years. The last four NBA Drafts have seen the Sixers picking no lower than third in the first round. However with the penchant to select injured players by former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, the turnaround in Philadelphia has taken longer than it should. But for the first time in a long time, there is some optimism in the City of Brotherly Love for this team.

Bryan Colangelo

Bryan Colangelo has one full season under his belt as the 76ers president/general manager. Colangelo knows how to build a roster as he was twice named as the NBA’s Executive of the Year during his tenure as the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, while he also helped to turn around the fortunes of the Toronto Raptors when he served as their general manager. Philadelphia went 28-54 as Colangelo set out to restore some order to the franchise last season. And as the Sixers learned how to compete, they showed that their days of being a pushover in the NBA could be coming to an end.

Joel Embiid

The brightest spot for the 76ers last season was the impact that center Joel Embiid had. Embiid was the third overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, however injuries forced him to sit out his first two seasons in the NBA. Embiid became a force for the Sixers last season as he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. But the injury bug once again did Embiid in as he was limited to just 31 games. However if Embiid is ever to remain healthy, he will be a force in the interior at both ends of the floor for Philadelphia.

2016 saw the 76ers use the first overall pick of the NBA Draft on small forward Ben Simmons. However Simmons would suffer a fractured foot last September which saw him miss the entire 2016-2017 NBA season. But Simmons is now healthy and ready to go which will be a huge plus for Philadelphia. Heading into the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons was compared to Cavaliers small forward LeBron James due to his ability to pass and be an all-around player at the small forward position. At 6’10”, Simmons has the ability see over most of his opponents, while he has made the players around him better at each step of the way along his basketball journey.

Philadelphia would once again select first this year in draft, but it was after they made a deal with the Boston Celtics. Originally the Sixers were slotted to select third overall, but with the Celtics feeling that they could trade down and still get the player that they wanted, Philadelphia moved up to select point guard Markelle Fultz.

Markelle Fultz

In one season collegiately for the Washington Huskies, Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds to become a third-team All-American. And now as the first overall pick of the draft, Fultz is ready to live up to the hype.

In 2015, Philadelphia selected center Jahlil Okafor third overall. And although that Okafor has tremendous upside to score in the low post, he has fallen out of favor in Philadelphia as it would not surprise me to see him traded at some point this season.

Very quietly shooting guard J.J. Redick has become one of the better three-point shooters in NBA history. The Sixers shocked many observers during the off-season when they gave him a one-year for $23 million as his game is one-dimensional. However Redick can provide the young Sixers with a veteran presence who knows what it takes to get to the playoffs as it all about changing the culture in Philly.

The schedule makers were not kind to the 76ers as four of their first five games this season will be versus teams who reached the playoffs last season. Philadelphia should be an improved team, but there success primarily hinges on their key young players remaining healthy.

Brooklyn Nets 22-60

The spend today and not worry about tomorrow philosophy that the Brooklyn Nets have employed for the last five years has finally caught up to them in a very bad way. Several “win-now” trades by the Nets saw them part with multiple first-round picks which could have been vital for them, but instead those draft picks are being used to build other teams. In 2013, the Nets sent multiple first-round picks to the Boston Celtics for small forward Paul Pierce, power forward Kevin Garnett, and shooting guard Jason Terry. None of these players suited up for the Nets for two seasons, while Garnett and Pierce are now retired. The Nets have helped the Celtics to become a title contender as Boston has consistently been picking early on in the NBA Draft courtesy of Brooklyn. And to make matters worse, the Celtics who own the Nets first-round pick for 2018 have already traded that pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deal that saw Boston acquire point guard Kyrie Irving. The Nets are coming off of consecutive seasons in which they lost at least 60 games and for the folks who follow the squad that calls New York City’s most popular borough home, don’t expect things to get that much better heading into the new NBA season.

Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Aktinson is set to begin his second season as the Nets head coach and he has a tall task in front of him in regards to making this team compete in the Eastern Conference. This off-season saw the Nets make a very questionable trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets sent center Brook Lopez, along with the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Lakers for center Timofey Mozgov and point guard D’Angelo Russell. Lopez was coming off of one of his best seasons with the Nets, and he leaves Brooklyn as the franchise’s all-time leader in points with 10,444. In trading Lopez, the Nets parted with a quality big man for a point guard in Russell who comes to Brooklyn with question about his maturity. In two seasons with the Lakers, Russell never showed that he could be a leader for the team, and when Magic Johnson became the franchise’s president of basketball operations earlier this year, it made the young point guard expendable. And whereas that the Lakers gave up on Russell, will a fresh start with a new team be able to motivate him?

In looking at the Nets roster there is not that much optimism heading into a new NBA season as this team could once again finish with the worst record in the league and not even have a top draft pick to show for it.

X-Division Winner

Y-Playoff Berth

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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Another MSG Fatality

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When New York Knicks owner James Dolan named Phil Jackson as the team president in 2014, there was a renewal of excitement for a fan base that had lacked in the category for a very long time. As a player Jackson was a part of the only two NBA Championships in Knicks franchise history, while he would go on to re-write the record book by winning 11 titles as a head coach. But there were still skeptics who were wondering if Jackson was going to be able to have that same success as a front office executive.

Jackson’s success as a head coach came on the strength of his famed triangle offense. And Jackson attempted to attach the triangle to the Knicks when he named Derek Fisher as the team’s head coach in 2014. Fisher played for Jackson when he was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers as these two helped the franchise win five NBA Championships. Fisher had just wrapped up his playing career in the NBA and Jackson was eager to groom him in regards to being a head coach.

Derek Fisher

However Fisher would never have that success with the Knicks as his first season would see New York lose a franchise worst 65 games. For the 2015-2016 NBA season the Knicks would get off to a 23-31 start and Jackson decided to part with Fisher as his maturity was brought into question. Fisher missed practice on several occasions due to the fact that he could not make it back from Los Angeles after spending time with his girlfriend who also happens to be the former wife of current NBA player Matt Barnes. Reports also surfaced about Fisher potentially being linked to a woman who was also involved with Tim Hardaway Jr., who happened to be on the Knicks roster at the time. And as the locker room began to go against Fisher, Jackson had no choice but to fire him as it marked his first official failure as Knicks team president;however there would be more to come.

When Jackson joined the Knicks front office, he inherited a star player in small forward Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is one of the better scorers of this era and now Jackson was going to attempt to sell him on the qualities of the triangle offense which could potentially lead to an NBA Championship for the Knicks. However Anthony was no closer to winning an NBA Championship than he was when Jackson joined the Knicks.

At first it appeared to be a marriage made in heaven when Jackson gave Anthony a contract extension in 2014 to the tune of a five-year deal for $124 million. But things began to sour quickly as a knee injury would limit Anthony to just 40 games in the first season under his new deal. Anthony would continue to put up solid numbers, however Jackson would publicly admit that the Knicks were rebuilding which was going to limit Anthony’s chances of winning a title. Jackson took it a step further this past season when he began to publicly criticize Anthony as it was a classic “bait and switch” with Jackson attempting to irk Anthony in order for him to waive his no-trade clause. However Anthony never budged on waiving his no-trade clause which left Jackson with egg on his face.

Kristaps Porzingis

Jackson’s greatest claim to fame as Knicks team president was selecting power forward Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 NBA Draft. At first the selection of Porzingis was welcomed with many boos, but he quickly was able to win over Knicks fans as in two seasons in New York he has averaged 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds. However aside from the selection of Porzingis, Jackson’s time with the Knicks has been a train wreck.

Last summer Jeff Hornacek was hired to be the Knicks new head coach in a move that was influenced by Dolan which made people wonder if some of Jackson’s power within the organization had been taken away as Hornacek isn’t a head coach that consistently operates the triangle offense. This past season we saw the Knicks go 31-51 for their fourth consecutive losing season as the team owner, president, head coach, and star player were not on the same page. And just when you thought that things could not get any wackier at Madison Square Garden for the Knicks, Dolan decided to part ways with Jackson earlier this week.

In three years under Jackson, the Knicks never won more than 31 games in a season and they never came close to making the playoffs more less being able to win an NBA Championship as he joins a long list of basketball legends whose careers came to die at Madison Square Garden while being associated with this franchise.

As good as Jackson’s triangle was for him, it worked when he had the likes of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant playing for him. Jackson never attempted to adjust his style and in watching Anthony play during his time in the NBA, he should have known that his skill set doesn’t fit that system. Now instead of Jackson simply being revered as one of the greatest head coaches that the NBA has ever seen, he now must take with him the stain on his time with the Knicks. But as bad as Jackson’s time with the Knicks was, he does not deserve all of the blame.

When Dolan hired Jackson, he hired a man who didn’t have any previous front office experience in the NBA. At first Dolan gave Jackson full autonomy as for the first time he was going to attempt to be a “hands off” owner. But in giving Jackson free reign, Dolan allowed his team president to force his triangle on players that did not fit system. And as Jackson’s arrogance got in his way, it also prevented the Knicks from having any success. Jackson’s public criticism of Anthony got him in trouble, while the calamity of errors that is the Knicks franchise has already frustrated Porzingis in just two seasons in New York. Jackson’s idea of remedying the issues with Anthony and Porzingis was to attempt to ship both of them out of them out of town which is when Dolan finally decided to intervene.

So now Jackson will limp off into the sunset knowing that he could not attain the same success in the front office as he did on the basketball court, but it will be hard to feel sorry for him since Dolan recently signed him to an extension. And as Jackson has left New York, the question of who will fix the Knicks comes around the bend once again to which there is no answer as you simply cannot polish a turd no matter how hard that you try.

 

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2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

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Markelle Fultz

1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)-Markelle Fultz-Freshman-Point Guard-Washington

If the Boston Celtics do not trade this pick, they will be stumbling on some more talent for thier back court.

2. Los Angeles Lakers-Lonzo Ball-Freshman-Point Guard-UCLA

The Lakers are the only team that Lonzo Ball is working out for, and if he isn’t picked here, he will drop on the draft board.

3. Philadelphia 76ers (via Sacramento Kings)-De’Aron Fox-Freshman-Point Guard-Kentucky

If the Lakers mess things up for themselves with the second overall pick, it won’t take the Sixers that long to pick up the pieces.

4. Phoenix Suns-Josh Jackson-Freshman-Small Forward-Kansas

The Suns already have a young and exciting back court with point guard Eric Bledsoe and shooting guard Devin Booker; now it is time to get more players in the front court who can produce.

5.Sacramento Kings(via) Philadelphia 76ers Kings-Jayson Tatum-Freshman-Small Forward-Duke

A selection here of Jayson Tatum all but signals the end of small forward Rudy Gay’s run with the Kings.

6. Orlando Magic-Jonathan Isaac-Freshman-Small Forward-Florida State

The Magic could raise some eyebrows here by taking a youngster that has plenty of upside.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves-Lauri Markkanen-Freshman-Power Forward-Arizona

The Timberwolves continue to stockpile young talent and you have to wonder if some of it will be used in a trade to acquire a veteran player.

Malik Monk

8. New York Knicks-Malik Monk-Freshman-Point Guard-Kentucky

Don’t look now but the selection of Malik Monk would be the best thing that the New York Knicks did at the NBA Draft in a very long time.

9. Dallas Mavericks-Zach Collins-Freshman-Center-Gonzaga

With an aging power forward in Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks need to have themselves a youth movement in their front court.

10. Sacramento (via New Orleans Pelicans) Kings-Dennis Smith Jr.-Freshman-Point Guard-North Carolina State

The Kings have the opportunity to do something that they have not done in years which is to select some talent.

Justin Jackson

11. Charlotte Hornets-Justin Jackson-Junior-Small Forward-North Carolina

The Hornets could go in several directions with this pick, but I don’t see Michael Jordan passing up on a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel.

12. Detroit Pistons-Frank Ntilikina-Point Guard-Belguim

The one thing that is holding the Pistons back from being a consistent playoff team is their lack of a true point guard.

13. Denver Nuggets-Justin Patton-Freshman-Center-Creighton

The Nuggets barely missed on making the NBA Playoffs this year, and they could get there next season as they are stockpiling solid big men.

14. Miami Heat-Harry Giles-Freshman-Power Forward-Duke

By putting Harry Giles alongside center Hassan Whiteside, the Heat could be building a young and formidable front court in the Eastern Conference.

15. Portland Trail Blazers–John Collins-Sophomore-Power Forward-Wake Forest

As the Blazers have three first-round picks, they could either move up, or focus on improving their front court.

Luke Kennard

16. Chicago Bulls-Luke Kennard-Sophomore-Shooting Guard-Duke

Dwyane Wade is still the Bulls starting shooting guard, but as he is 35-years of age, it is time to look towards the future.

17. Milwaukee Bucks-Jarrett Allen-Freshman-Center-Texas

The rich get richer here as the Bucks can develop another athletic big man.

18. Indiana Pacers-Terrance Ferguson-Small Forward-United States

If the Pacers want to retain the services of small forward Paul George they need to put some more talent around him.

19. Atlanta Hawks-Ike Anigbogu-Freshman-Power Forward-UCLA

With power forward Paul Millsap scheduled to become a free agent, the Hawks need to get themselves some insurance in the front court should they lose him.

20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, and Cleveland Cavaliers)-OG Anunoby-Sophomore-Small Forward-Indiana

The Trail Blazers focus for the NBA Draft must be focusing on upgrading their front court.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder-Bam Adebayo-Freshman-Center-Kentucky

For the Thunder it’s all about guys who can play off of point guard Russell Westbrook as Bam Adebayo is a player that can crash the boards.

Caleb Swanigan

22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington Wizards)-Caleb Swanigan-Sophomore-Power Forward-Purdue

The Nets will have to wait until they can pick in the draft, but they’ll get the chance to draft a quality big man.

23. Toronto Raptors (via Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks)-Tyler Lydon-Sophomore-Small Forward-Syracuse

The Raptors are going to have their hands full as far as retaining the services of point guard Kyle Lowry this summer when he hits free agency. However they’ll at least find a solid shooter to play alongside shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.

24. Utah Jazz-Donovan Mitchell-Sophomore-Point Guard-Louisville

The Jazz need to upgrade the point guard position after George Hill led the team in assists last season with only 3.6 per game.

25. Orlando Magic (via Toronto Raptors)-T.J. Leaf-Freshman-Power Forward-UCLA

As the Magic only have one power forward currently on their roster in Aaron Gordon, they need more depth at the position.

Ivan Rabb

26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)-Ivan Rabb-Sophomore-Power Forward-California

If Ivan Rabb had left school last year he could have been a top-five pick. But Rabb’s loss could be the Trail Blazers gain.

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics)-Rodions Kurucs-Small Forward-Spain

For a team that didn’t have a ton of hope entering the draft, the Nets could emerge and save face.

28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets)-Josh Hart-Senior-Shooting Guard-Villanova

New Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has an eye for talent and Josh Hart is a leader that can fit into their ball movement offense.

29. San Antonio Spurs-Isaiah Hartenstein-Power Forward-United States

It wouldn’t be the Spurs if they didn’t draft a guy that has played overseas.

30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors)-Edmond Sumner-Sophomore-Point Guard-Xavier

I expect an open competition at point guard for the Jazz this summer.

 

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Greed Has Hurt Carmelo

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There is no denying that New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony is one of the better players of this era. Anthony was the third overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets and as a rookie he averaged 21 points per game. For Anthony’s NBA career he has averaged 24.8 points per contest as he is a 10-time All-Star and a three-time gold medal winner with the United States Men’s Basketball team in the Summer Olympics. However an NBA Championship has alluded Anthony throughout his 14-year career and he has nobody to blame but himself.

Anthony entered the NBA as a member of the star studded rookie class that included Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, Chicago Bulls shooting guard Dwyane Wade, and former Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh. Anthony had success with the Nuggets as each season in Denver saw him make the NBA Playoffs, but the team was only to advance past the first round once. And as the story was beginning to get stale for Anthony in Denver, he was seeking a way out, but he missed his best opportunity.

In 2006, Anthony signed a five-year extension with the Nuggets for $80 million. However when James, Wade, and Bosh, signed their extensions with the Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Toronto Raptors respectively in 2006, they only signed three-year deals with an option for a fourth year. In 2010, James, Wade, and Bosh would all become free agents, and they shocked the basketball world when they decided to join forces in South Beach for the Heat. James really wanted to team up with Wade and Anthony who are his closest friends, but he would settle for Bosh. And after seeing this transpire Anthony would get himself out of Denver in 2011 as he was traded to the New York Knicks which would be the equivalent of reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Anthony would be given a hero’s welcome upon joining the Knicks as he helped them reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years. But whereas Anthony was simply able to help the Knicks reach the postseason, James and company were able to win back-to-back NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013. Prior to joining the Knicks in 2011, Anthony would sign a three-year extension with the Nuggets which set him up to become a free agent at the same time as Wade, James, and Bosh. But when James couldn’t get his way in Miami which included hoping to have Bosh sign with another team, he decided to return to Cleveland. After flirting with joining the Bulls, Anthony would ultimately re-sign with the Knicks to the tune of $124 million for five years. But one of the main factors in Anthony deciding to remain in New York was due to the fact that the Knicks were able to offer him more money than other NBA team. Anthony now has his money, but it hasn’t brought him any closer to winning a championship. And unless you’ve been locked away without any access to television or the internet, you see that the Knicks are an organization that is in complete disarray.

The Knicks have an owner in James Dolan who is now best known for having the team’s former starting power forward in Charles Oakley physically removed from Madison Square Garden earlier this month. Team president Phil Jackson has been unable to replicate the success that he had as a head coach in the NBA which saw him win 11 titles as his time in New York has been a complete disaster. All Jackson has done with the Knicks is to be stubborn about the team utilizing his beloved triangle offense, give out large contracts to aging players, and publicly criticize Anthony. Jackson’s public criticism of Anthony is his way of attempting to force the All-Star out of the door. But this would involve Anthony waving his full no-trade clause which was given to him by Jackson. And since that isn’t happening anytime soon, these two are stuck with each other.

The trade deadline in the NBA came and went last week without the Knicks making a move. Jackson would love to trade Anthony, but the only two teams that the small forward would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for are the Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers. However the Clippers don’t have the assets that the Knicks want, while the Cavaliers weren’t willing to make a straight up swap of Anthony for power forward Kevin Love which means that Anthony is stuck in basketball purgatory.

And now that James is in contention for his fourth NBA Championship, while Wade won three in Miami, and Bosh has two as he is currently semi-retired, Anthony can only count his millions. The Knicks paid Anthony, but with a record of 23-35 this season, New York will more be watching the playoffs from home for a fourth consecutive year. Anthony will be 33-years of age in May, and the clock is ticking on his chances to win a title as he flirting with being put into the category of great scorers who didn’t have what it took to win a title. Anthony does have the option to once again opt-out next summer. However Anthony would be passing up on nearly $28 million, but would he be willing to throw caution to the wind in order to take less money and be a part of a championship team?

Only time will tell if Anthony will ever get his chance to hoist the NBA Championship, but as time continues to tick away on his career, he has nobody to blame except himself for the predicament that he is currently in.

Sources: Sports-reference.com, Spotrac.com

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The Ongoing Saga At MSG

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The New York Knicks are one of the NBA’s original franchises, and their home has been dubbed as “The World’s Most Famous Arena”. The Knicks have called Madison Square Garden home since 1968 and they’ve had some good moments there which included Willis Reed’s epic performance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals that catapulted New York to their first title. The Knicks would win their second NBA Championship in 1973 and continue to be a solid team which included trips to the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1999. But when the Knicks were eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in 2001, little did they or any else know what coming down the pike.

19 games into the 2001-2002 NBA season, head coach Jeff Van Gundy resigned as the head coach of the Knicks and since then they’ve employed ten different head coaches. Included in that list of head coaches who couldn’t get it done for the Knicks over this stretch are some Basketball Hall of Famers such as Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, and Isiah Thomas. But unlike the Knicks of the 1990’s, this organization has not come close to being a championship contender and there is only one man to blame for that.

James Dolan

Since 1999, James Dolan has been the man who claims ownership of the Knicks. Dolan also owns Madison Square Garden, along with the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, and the WNBA’s New York Liberty. But unlike the Rangers who appeared in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, or the Liberty who’ve won four Eastern Conference Championships since their inception in 1997, the Knicks are at the other end of the spectrum.

Dolan has become the poster boy of the Knicks ineptitude as they’ve become one of the NBA’s laughing stocks. The Knicks have consistently mortgaged away their future for quick fixes which has done nothing more than set them back further, while also annoying an already furious fan base.

Since the end of the 2000-2001 NBA season, the Knicks have only had three winning seasons and with just 27 games remaining here in the 2016-2017 campaign, another trip to loserville appears to be on deck. But aside from the losing, it is how things are going down for the Knicks.

Phil Jackson

Since 2014, Phil Jackson has been the Knicks team president. Jackson did bring some excitement with him to the Garden since he won 11 NBA Championships as a head coach, and two more as a player with the Knicks. But when Jackson joined the Knicks, he didn’t have any previous front office experience and it is showing.

As the Knicks president, Jackson is married to the triangle offense which brought him success as a head coach. Jackson’s first hire with the Knicks was making Derek Fisher the team’s head coach. Fisher was fresh off of an 18-year playing career in the NBA. But like Jackson, Fisher didn’t have any previous experience for the post that he was ready to assume. Fisher’s saving grace was the fact that he played for Jackson and was familiar with his triangle offense.

In Fisher’s first season with the Knicks, the team went 17-65 for their worst season in franchise history. In Fisher’s second season, the Knicks were showing improvement as they were 23-31. But Fisher would be fired by Jackson for off-the-court issues which included his missing practice due to the fact that he could not make it back from California as he went to visit his girlfriend. The Knicks would go 9-19 for the rest of the season under interim head coach Kurt Rambis, while Jackson would set his sights on a new head coach.

But there would be a twist in Jackson’s search as Dolan who previously claimed that he would no longer meddle in the Knicks day-to-day operations, wanted a hand in picking the team’s next head coach.

Jackson was focused on another head coach who would run the triangle, but the Knicks would ultimately settle on former Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek has been known to run an uptempo offense, but was open to using some of the fundamentals of Jackson’s triangle. But with Jackson and Hornacek not on the same page, the results have shown in the Knicks record.

The Knicks are currently 22-33 which includes dropping 23 of their last 31 games. The Knicks continue to slide in the standings as they are currently in the 12th place in the Eastern Conference and 3.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot. And a disgruntled fan base has to sit by and watch this team crumble before their very eyes.

Jackson has assembled the Knicks current roster and on paper, this would have been a good team five years ago, but the majority of their key players are washed up.

Carmelo Anthony

When Jackson joined the Knicks, he knew that he was going to have to convince small forward Carmelo Anthony to re-sign with the team. And in the summer of 2014, Anthony decided to remain in New York as he and the Knicks agreed on a five-year deal for $124 million. Part of Jackson’s sell job to Anthony was that he was going to put a team capable of winning a championship around him. But Jackson has been rebuffed in free agency by superstar players, and he has had to settle for washed up players such as center Joakim Noah and point guard Derrick Rose. Jackson’s greatest claim with the Knicks was drafting power forward Kristaps Porzingis in 2015, but his recent treatment of Anthony leaves something to be desired.

On multiple occasions Jackson has publicly criticized Anthony for his style of play. And on multiple occasions, Anthony has privately spoke to Jackson seeking to have this style of “communication” eliminated, but apparently to no avail. Jackson appears to be a man that is trying accomplish two things. First, Jackson has come across in a mode where he is attempting to get Anthony to waive his no-trade clause, while also trying to get Dolan to fire him with neither of these dreams set to become a reality anytime soon for him.

The only two teams that Anthony appears willing to waive his no-trade clause for are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers. And whereas the Clippers don’t have the trade assets to accommodate the Knicks, the Cavaliers have no interest in making a deal as New York wants power forward Kevin Love in return which isn’t happening, thus Jackson and Anthony are stuck with each other.

Jackson also drew the ire of Cavs small forward LeBron James when he used the term “posse” to describe his business partners such as Maverick Carter earlier this season. Jackson is continuing to put his foot deeper into his own mouth and this only adds to the hypocrisy of Dolan.

In the past Dolan has gone out of his way to censor Knicks commentators such as Walt “Clyde” Frazier due to his criticism of the team. And part of Dolan firing Larry Brown as the Knicks head coach in 2006 was over his public criticism of players.

However Dolan’s time in operating the Knicks has been marred with lapses in judgement. We’ll never forget Anucha Browne-Sanders’ sexual harassment suit against the Knicks, Dolan, and Thomas in 2007 following her termination. A jury would ultimately rule in favor of Browne-Sanders which would cost Dolan and Madison Square Garden $11.5 million, along with public shame. Browne-Sanders’ claims of sexual harassment were initially directed at Thomas who Dolan decided to stand by which only made things worse. Dolan let his ego get in the way as it would have been very simple for him to cut Browne-Sanders a check for at least $7.5 million to make this problem go away without bringing public embarrassment to his organization, but that wouldn’t be the case.

Dolan’s ego continues to get the best of him as last Wednesday night saw former Knicks player Charles Oakley physically escorted out of Madison Square Garden and arrested. Oakley and Dolan will never be confused as far as being kissing cousins due to the fact that Oakley has been publicly critical of how the Knicks are being operated under Dolan. But Oakley is not saying anything that Knicks fans are saying on the streets of New York City aren’t spewing as they want to see this team win.

The altercation last Wednesday began during the first quarter of New York’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers when MSG security at the request of Dolan approached Oakley while he was seated a few rows behind the Knicks owner. Oakley who was known as a very intense competitor during his playing career immediately became agitated. And after a security member put his hands on Oakley, a scuffle ensued.

The result would become an embarrassing episode for Oakley, the Knicks, Dolan, MSG, and the NBA. Oakley would be arrested and charged with three counts of third-degree assault. Following Oakley’s arrest, the Knicks would make a statement on the matter which was capped off by the notion that the former player should “get help”.

Since then Dolan has fired the head of MSG security Frank Benedetto and banned Oakley from his arena indefinitely. But if Oakley was the aggressor and the one at fault as Dolan has publicly claimed, why did his head of security get shown the door?

Dolan has claimed that Oakley is an alcoholic and was intoxicated at the time of the incident. However Oakley has denied being intoxicated, while he has claimed that MSG security was on him the moment that he sat down. And it is Dolan that must be reminded that he was the one and not Oakley who was checked into a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol abuse in 1993.

At the end of the day this is something that the Knicks may never recover from under Dolan. Oakley is a Knicks legend as he was the heart and soul of the team during the 1990’s. Basketball fans in New York City embraced Oakley for his rugged style of play as he fought the likes of Charles Barkley, Xavier McDaniel, and Rick Mahorn. Oakley is one of those people that will tell you like it is whether you want to hear it or not which is why he is loved in the Big Apple. But since he spoke the truth about the Knicks and Dolan, he has been given the dry shave.

Dolan has reached out to former Knicks such as Allan Houston and John Starks as they’ve worked for the organization in the past, but not Oakley or Hall of Famer center Patrick Ewing. Ewing is currently an assistant coach for the Charlotte Hornets as the Knicks have all but refused to bring him back in a coaching capacity. Another former Knicks player in Mark Jackson has reached also out to the Knicks in the past as far as being a head coach, but like Ewing he was denied.

Instead of Dolan putting his ego aside in order to broker a meeting with Oakley, he has gone the route of appearing to be a bigger jerk in the eyes of Knicks fans as he’s decided to throw his weight around by sending his “goons” after Oakley, and subsequently banning his from MSG. And with the way that Jackson is treating Anthony, along with Oakley being handcuffed at the Garden, why would any talented NBA player be willing to sign his name on the dotted line in order to join the Knicks?

There’s a possibility that Oakley could sue Dolan and Madison Square Garden and he would have a strong case in his favor. Oakley sat down to watch the game and then MSG security approached him at his seat. But if Dolan expected Oakley to be that much of a problem, why was he allowed in the building in the first place? It wasn’t one member of MSG’s security team that approached Oakley, but several members which was not going to deescalate the situation. An MSG security official then put his hands on Oakley which caused him to react in a physical way. And once Oakley was restrained, Dolan rose up from his court side seat in the manner of a pleased mob boss who had just seen a planned hit orchestrated to perfection.

It also doesn’t help Dolan’s case due to his past drug and alcohol issues, the Browne-Sanders case, or the fact that some Madison Square Garden employees were terminated after they couldn’t make it to work due to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

We’ve heard the term “starting over” thrown around in the Knicks direction before, but the only solution for the franchise at this point is to have NBA commissioner Adam Silver take the team away from Dolan. The Knicks play in the NBA’s biggest media market and they’ve failed to consistently be relevant for nearly two decades which doesn’t help the league. Penn Station is right under MSG, but the Knicks are the train wreck as the owner, team president, head coach, and star player are not on the same page as the results can be seen on a nightly basis when they take the court.

The Knicks are 22-33, but it is not farfetched to say that this team could struggle to win 10 games for the remainder of the season. Dolan is in a fantasy world as he feels that only a select few fans are displeased with the way that he is running the franchise, while Jackson has taken the term “out to lunch” to another plateau. Hornacek appears to be a nice man who walked into an impossible situation, but he should have known better since Madison Square Garden became a graveyard for basketball careers a long time ago. Anthony had the chance to get out of New York City nearly three years ago. However since the Knicks could offer Anthony more money than any other NBA team, he decided to stay.

The Knicks are so pathetic to the point that longtime season-ticket holder Spike Lee is willing to help Jackson “pack his bags” in order to leave town. But since Lee is a paying customer that is putting money into Dolan’s pockets, he not Oakley can be critical of the Knicks putrid performance.

As I stated in a previous blog post that the Ringling Brothers might be shutting down their circus which has come to the Garden for years, but we still have the Knicks. And at this point not even the Keystone Cops of the Three Stooges could hold a flame to Dolan’s Knicks are far as being clueless.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

 

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