Tag Archives: Offseason

Despite Criticism, Jackson Changing Course of Knicks Franchise

No stars? No problem. These New York Knicks are somewhat back on track.  Continue reading Despite Criticism, Jackson Changing Course of Knicks Franchise

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Looking at the 2015/16 Islanders Season

Now that the book has been closed on the 2014/15 NHL season, and the Cup has been lifted and the draft results are in, our thoughts can shift toward…well, the 2015/16 season. The NHL this past week released the schedule for it’s upcoming slate of games, and so let’s take a look at what the New York Islanders can look forward to heading into their inaugural season in Brooklyn. Continue reading Looking at the 2015/16 Islanders Season

Position Battle: Backup Point Guard

The New York Knicks will endure a learning process to begin next season, that being adapting to a new system and a new head coach along with figuring starting, bench and situational lineups. Derek Fisher will have his hands full to say the least.

The Knicks currently have two positions with guaranteed starters in Jose Calderon at point guard and the new-look Carmelo Anthony at small forward. New York is currently undertaking what will hopefully be only a one or two year rebuild. The Knicks have two or possibly even three options to be the primary backup point guard.

The candidates include the Knicks seasoned veteran in Pablo Prigioni, the youthful exuberance of Shane Larkin and the third option in Iman Shumpert.

The triangle does not require the point guard to be ball dominant, he simply initiates the offensive set hence why Shumpert is a possibility. There have been rumblings that Fisher along with Phil Jackson, have floated the idea of playing Shumpert at point guard. Phil Jackson does love big, strong and stocky guards who play defense – Ron Harper. That’s how Shumpert fits into the equation, he’d just basically walk the ball up the court and run through the system and make his living on he defensive end. We can only speculate at the point.

So, the 37 year-old Argentinian VS the hungry young pup. Who gets the playing time?

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Pablo Prigioni

Prigioni is the oldest rookie in NBA history, he entered the league at age 35 after fellow countrymen Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola convinced him to make the leap to US soil. He now has 19 years of playing experience under his belt.

Pablo was an instant hit at the Mecca, us fans love his pesky defense and inbound steals along with him splashing in threes while making some amazing passes. Prigioni, alike to Calderon, is level-headed, he remains cool, calm and composed; never is he rattled. The Argentinian looks to pass first and shoot second which is perfect for the system as it preaches ball movement.

On the offensive end of the court Prigioni has his head up at all times and he’s looking to make a pass – 6.8 assists per 36 minutes. The 37 year-old is great at making a pocket pass to the big man rolling to the rim or driving and kicking it out to a shooter on the perimeter. Prigioni, although a reluctant shooter, is deadly from three point range – 46% last season, 2nd in the NBA. ‘Priggy Smalls’ as the fans know him, is lethal when his opponent goes under the screen, he often hides behind the big, gets balanced and then connects with the bottom of the net.

On the defensive end Prigioni is a pest, he applies full court pressure and it’s not a rarity for him to nab a few steals on inbound passes. The veteran has very active hands, Prigioni regularly strips opposition players, constantly picks their pockets and he gets into the passing lanes as well, don’t forget that he’s also good at pocking the ball loose when someone drives to the basket.

Prigioni is a sub-par on-ball defender, he’s ageing and his lack of athleticism and agility means opposition guards can blow right by him and Prigioni often gets burnt on the pick and roll.

Pablo Prigioni is a seasoned and experienced player. He is a floor general whose at the helm offensively orchestrating the set. The 19-year pro is a traditional point guard, he looks to pass first and shoot second which is ideal for the triangle offense. His outside shooting ability is also of great benefit to the Knicks as he’ll be left open with Carmelo Anthony attracting all the attention. Prigioni annoys his opponent defensively and his knack for knocking the ball loose some what makes up for his sub-par on-ball defense.

NBA
NBA

Shane Larkin

Shane Larkin was dealt to the Knicks in a deal prior to draft night, he openly spoke about his disliking of Dallas and the way things were handled down south. The University of Miami product is looking forward to a fresh and new start in the orange and blue.

On the offensive end of the court Larkin seems to have developed an all-round skill set – Derek Fisher noted the maturity of Larkin’s game. He was inconsistent last season from the perimeter shooting 31% but during the summer league, from game two onwards he shot 46% from downtown. Larkin stated during interviews that he was working on his jump shot and it definitely showed during the summer action. The 21-year-old displayed the ability to shoot off of the dribble as well as in catch and shoot situations, Larkin’s range also now seems to extend to well beyond the three point line – he nailed three very deep long bombs.

Larkin is a blur, he’s lightning quick which allows him to penetrate the defense offensively. He can burn his opponent on the pick and roll allowing for both easy shots for him and his teammates. Although he stands at just 5’11, Larkin is a freak athletically – 34.5 inch vertical leap, 2nd at Pre-Draft combine – he’s able to take the ball to the rim and finish amongst the trees and through contact. One area where he’ll be of great benefit is on the fast break, he’s adept at knocking the ball loose and speeding down the other end; he should get many open looks for he and his teammates.

The Knicks will be running the triangle offense, the triangle offense preaches ball movement. This is where Larkin will have to adapt, he is a scorer first and a passer second. It’s not a big deal at all, when you can get to the hoop at will like he can I’m sure he can make an extra pass or two. Larkin is 21 years of age, he’s got plenty of time.

Larkin can gives the Knicks a major boost defensively due to his speed, quickness and active hands. The former Hurricane is a good on-ball defender, he’s able to stay in front of his man as well as fighting over and through screens. Larkin, much like Prigioni, is adept at picking pockets and knocking the ball loose, he’s also great at chasing down and ripping the ball from behind his opponent.

In summation, Larkin is a floor general, he will be at the helm offensively and defensively on the perimeter. He has blazing speed which allows him to get to the basket where he is good at finishing through contact. Larkin is also able to make a pass when penetrating; if it be to a big for a lay-in or a three for a shooter. The 21-year-old also has a high basketball I.Q. – he reads the play and times his off-ball movement perfectly, gets in the lanes defensively. He has an improving jump shot which is growing in range whilst being a handful defensively. Larkin has active hands on-ball and off-ball when an opponent drives, he also gets into the passing lanes like Prigioni but his specialty is chase-down steals – 5+ steals twice during summer League, 2.8 per game.

Who should receive more playing time? The young-pup of the old-dog?

New York Knicks 2014 Offseason Recap

The New York Knicks, led by Phil Jackson, have had an extremely active and productive offseason. At the completion of the 2013-14 season it was thought the Knicks would be putting out the same product this upcoming season. Well that’s incredibly far from the case.

Phil Jackson and company cleaned house on the bench, completed two trades, the drafting of two players, six free agent signings (only three are fully guaranteed), waiving one player whilst losing just one in free agency.

We all knew it was coming, that being the dismissal of Mike Woodson and the rest of the coaching staff. Phil Jackson had his sights set on hiring Steve Kerr, it was rumoured that Kerr was offered a 3 year / $12 million deal, he thought that was a ‘lowball’ offer and Kerr took the opportunity with the Golden State Warriors.

The names of Bill Cartwright, Kurt Rambis and Derek Fisher were all thrown around. Jackson was successful on his second attempt, securing Derek Fisher on a 5 year / $25 million deal. It’s safe to say Phil Jackson didn’t want to fall to 0-2. The Knicks have since rounded out the staff, signing Kurt Rambis as Fisher’s associate head coach. New York also picked up Jim Cleamons, Joshua Longstaff and Brian Keefe.

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The Knicks kicked off the all proceedings this summer sending Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks. New York, in return, got an upgrade at point guard, receiving Jose Calderon along with Samuel Dalembert who actually produces more per 36 minutes than his predecessor, Tyson Chandler. The Knicks also nabbed Wayne Ellington and Shane Larkin. Arguably the best part of the trade was landing the 34th and 51st picks on the 2014 NBA draft.

One day prior to the draft New York had no draft picks and things weren’t looking like they’d end up with one. The Knicks squeezed two second round picks out of Dallas resulting in the drafting of Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. New York also purchased the 57th pick from Indiana, the Knicks then selected Louis Labeyrie. He currently plays in France and he’ll look to get an NBA contract as soon as next summer. New York has since signed Early whilst Antetokoumnpo will be stashed in the Development League with the Knicks’ affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.

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This is when the fun began. Carmelo Anthony opted out of the final year of his contract making himself an unrestricted free agent. The 7x All-Star met with five teams in three days, completing his ambition of testing the free agent waters. Anthony first met with Chicago at the mad house on Madison which was fully decked out in Anthony sporting Bulls gear.

It seemed that Anthony was as good as gone after that. He met with the Rockets the following day as well as the Mavericks, which he declared was a waste of time. The 11-year pro then met with the Los Angeles Lakers where they wowed him with nothing to do with basketball. He then met with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to close out his tour.

Anthony’s decision was not expected to take long, he finished meeting with teams on Friday and a decision was expected by the following Tuesday at the latest. As the days went on the speculation continued, many fans lost sleep over how long it was taking. After two weeks Anthony announced that he would re-sign with the Knicks on a 5 year / $124 million contract.

Two days turned into two weeks, and Anthony would have joined the Chicago Bulls, but he felt that their offer was not large enough. It was recently reported that Chicago attempted to give Carmelo a contract similar to that of LeBron James. A two year deal, expiring in 2016 when the salary cap is expected to take a huge leap, meaning Anthony could re-sign on a maximum contract then.

Whilst all of the “Melo Drama” was ending, Derek Fisher got his first taste of coaching, deciding he would oversee the Knicks’ summer league team. Kurt Rambis was also prominent during the time in Las Vegas as he has prior assistant and head coaching experience. New York fielded a competitive roster including Cole Aldrich (for a game), Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larkin, the two rookies and Jeremy Tyler. The Knicks ended group play with a 3-0 record, with wins over Dallas, Portland on a game-winning floater from Shane Larkin followed by blowing out the Charlotte Hornets securing the second overall seed. New York then faced the D-League select team where a strong start to the second half saw New York get over the line with relative ease. Once again they faced the Hornets, they were a different team, defeating New York despite quality play from Larkin, and Early.

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Getty Images

Tim Hardaway Jr. assumed the role as captain, he was extremely vocal and directive, meaning giving instructions. He stated recently that he needs to lead and be more vocal on the court, Hardaway Jr. said that doing this during the summer league did and will help him in the future.

Hardaway Jr. also showed off the new facets of his game, the ability to attack the rim and do more than shoot three pointers, being pull up jumpshots, back-cutting and also his improvement on the defensive end. His strong showing resulted in an invitation the participate with the USA select team.

Following a dominant 9 point, 14 rebound and 3 block outing in the opening Summer a league game, New York re-signed Cole Aldrich on a two year deal, the amount is yet to be disclosed. Per 36 minutes last season Aldrich posted 10 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. He will most likely be the 3rd string center again, but with many of the Knick bigs having constant battles with health, Aldrich could here his number called more frequently. The Knicks also waived Shannon Brown post summer league, he played well and demonstrated the ability to lead but with their being a log jam at the two guard he had to go as his contract was not guaranteed.

The Knicks later struck a deal with the Sacramento Kings, landing Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy for Jeremy Tyler and Wayne Ellington, both of whom have since been waived by Sacramento. New York went on to fully guarantee the contract of Acy, he’ll make $915,000 this season.

It is very debatable, but the Knicks got what could be a viable backup to Carmelo Anthony in Travis Outlaw. Outlaw, now 29, has range on his jump shot along with being able to slash hard to the rim. He’s also an above average on-ball defender, partly due to his 7’4 wingspan.

The original rumor was that Ellington was on the block along with Pablo Prigioni, teams wanted something other or something to go with Ellington and that was Prigioni. Many believe it would have been a big mistake trading Prigioni. The 37 year old recently said he is happy to be a Knick and he hopes and wants it to remain that way.

To nobodies surprise, both Andrea Bargnani (11 million) and Amar’e Stoudemire (23 million) opted into the final year of their contracts.

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The New York Knicks had $3.3 million to spend this offseason, Phil Jackson decided to send that money to Jason Smith. Smith is smooth-shooting seven footer whose an a good passer for a big man. The former 20th overall pick also rebounds well and he doesn’t allow for easy shots in the paint, he has 6 fouls and he knows how to use them. Smith’s only downside is health, 31 appearances last year and 120 in the last three seasons.

On July 1st the Knicks withdrew their qualifying offer to Tour’e Murry making him an unrestricted free agent. The Wichita State product received interest from the Clippers, Heat, Raptors, Jazz and the Knicks. He eventually signed a 2 year deal worth $2 million with the Utah Jazz. It was said that New York was disappointed when they lost him, 6’5 defensive point guards don’t come around all that often.

New York elected to not re-sign Kenyon Martin. Although he brings a toughness and defense he was too much of a risk. Martin suffered an ankle injury in January and he was supposed to be sidelined for two weeks, instead he missed the final four months of the year. Age was also a factor. New York aims to develop the youth in the roster next season, and having landed Quincy Acy who brings the same skill set it was a logical decision to let him go.

Pablo Prigioni represented Argentina during the FIBA World Cup, Jose Calderon suited up for Spain as well. Calderon put up 7 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in less than 15 minutes of action. Prigioni posted a solid 9 points, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals.

Just recently the Knicks signed Langston Galloway out of St. Joseph’s and Travis Wear out of UCLA, both of whom played for New York during the summer league. They both have non-guaranteed contracts, meaning that they will attend training camp and play during the pre-season but will likely be cut and miss out on making the final roster.

Galloway is a scorer, his range is unlimited and he has feline quickness. He was able to beat his man back-door frequently, Galloway also did a nice job at finishing at the rim through contact. Wear is a big body, he clogs the lane, rebounds and offensively he has a solid mid-range shot, he is also athletic for his size.

Most recently the Knicks signed Orlando Sanchez, a former RedStorm star. He played for the Dominican Republic during the World Cup. Sanchez is a stretch power forward, he is a smooth shooter from behind the arc and he’s a good offensive rebounder. He may even play at small forward as he’s not the biggest frame going around. Alike to Galloway and Wear, his contract is non-guaranteed. He will likely not be playing for New York this season but it’s expected Sanchez will play for Westchester of the D-League.

The Knicks are also expected to pass on the opportunity to give Iman Shumpert a contract extension by the 31st of October. New York likes him but they need to see him perform before they hurl cash his way. Shumpert will likely enter restricted free agency on the summer of 2015.

Side Notes:

Carmelo Anthony has lost weight in order to be the best he possibly can during the triangle. He aims to be more athletic, mobile and agile to make passes out of the post when double teamed.

Amar’e Stoudemire has also taken the path travelled by Carmelo Anthony, shedding weight and adding muscle. Stoudemire has been working hard and he stated that he’s feeling the best he’s felt since arriving in New York.

Iman Shumpert has worked extremely hard on his jump shot, he seems to be ‘pissed off at the world’ again. Shumpert is knocking them down in practice, but can he do it in a game? Shumpert also expressed his excitement to play in the triangle offsene, he’s looking forward to doing more than sit in the corner.

J.R. Smith stated that egos need to be put aside, surprisingly he has done so. Smith has said that he does not care if he starts of comes off the bench, he’ll still be playing basketball and getting minutes.

The Knicks have had an extremely active offseason. Seven new faces and a new coaching. Phil Jackson said there would be big changes, the Zen Master was not lying.