Knicks Win and Acquire Starting Point Guard

Friday night’s loss to the Celtics was frustrating, but the ball movement and spacing on offense was encouraging. The Knicks continued the crisp passing Saturday night leading to plenty of quality shots, and a solid victory over the Eastern Conference’s third seed. Andrea Bargnani made 11 out of 16 field goals and Carmelo had four! assists, however the key player was Pablo Prigioni who was a more willing shooter and even nailed a couple of deep threes.

The shooting was a pleasant surprise, because Pablo looked for his offense more without sacrificing the parts of his game that the Knicks need. The unselfish play of Prigioni is infectious and his on the ball pressure lead resulted in four steals by Prigioni himself and helped the Knicks force 27 Hawks turnovers. The Knicks have played four games in five nights, and Pablo has averaged 32 minutes showing the ability to handle the added workload thus far. It is too early to tell whether the 36 year old can handle playing 32 minutes per game for the rest of the season, but it is clear he deserves to be the starting point guard ahead of Raymond Felton. Continue reading

Step Up Your Announcing Game Tommy

I’m still recovering from another heat-wrenching loss and some devastating shots from the Fourth Tenor, Vitor Faverani. Wait, you say Vitor is not a singer nor Italian? But, he played in Italy so who cares. True story.

The worst part of tonight’s loss was enduring the impossibly horrific commentary from Tommy Heinsohn who plays Jerry Lawler to Mike Gorman’s Jim Ross. Tommy’s unabashed homerism is well documented, and he may or may not have called Walter McCarty the next Scottie Pippen*. Tonight, after backup point guard Phil Pressey impregnated Pablo Prigioni with a personal foul in the second quarter, Tommy reacted to the ref’s whistle like he saw the ghost of Wilt Chamberlain skull fucking Red Auerbach’s corpse. Continue reading

Kyle Lowry Rumors

Marc Stein is reporting that the Knicks and Raptors are discussing a Kyle Lowry trade in exchange for Raymond Felton and another player from the Knicks. Steiny Mo stops short of reporting that Iman Shumpert, who has been included in rumors for Kenneth Faried, Rajon Rondo (someone actually took that seriously enough to report it), and David Price, is the second player.

A swap of Lowry for Shump and Felton would be a good move for both teams on the court. Lowry is a better penetrator and more tenacious on defense so he would be an upgrade over Felton. For that upgrade the Knicks would give up a promising (?) young player who is willing to work on defense. Assuming Felton does not pull a Portland and sulk his way to the bench, he would be a nice compliment to Greivis Vasquez on a rebuilding Raptors team. The Knicks would also free up a roster spot for Jeremy Tyler or another badly needed big man so there is added value in the Knicks doing a two for one. Continue reading

A Magical Trade Revisited

The great Masai Ujiri worked his magic again this weekend by dumping Rudy Gay and Rudy Gay’s contract on the Kings. Ujiri has done a masterful job of purging the team of the awful contracts signed or traded for under Bryan Colangelo’s watch (see Fields, Landry). Most writers and fans view the trade as a clear win for the Raptors and a clear loss for the Kings who continue to surprise no one with the organization’s lack of vision. Yet, the woeful, pitiful, and Shaqful Kings organization were smart enough to not include draft picks to acquire Rudy Gay. Continue reading

Impact of Redick and Kevin Martin deals on Knicks signing J.R. Smith

The shooting guard market is starting to set. Earlier today, J.J. Redick signed a four-year deal for $27 mil with the Bucks before being shipped to the Clippers in the Eric Bledsoe trade. A few hours ago, Kevin Martin signed a four-year deal between $28-30 milFrank Isola, tweeted that both deals are similar to what the Knicks can offer the enigmatic J.R. Smith. Isola could be right, but a lot depends on the NBA’s financial audit and your definition of similar.

The Knicks have Smith’s Early Bird rights, which gives them the right to sign him to a four-year deal starting at the league’s average salary from the previous season or 175% of Smith’s 2012-13 salary (see Question 25 of Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ). In 2011-12, the average player salary was $5,048,000, and less than the estimated $5,380,000 (see Question 31). The estimate for 2012-13 is $5,276,000. If that estimate is correct then the Knicks can offer Smith a four-year deal, with 7.5% raises from the first-year salary, worth $23,478,200. Martin’s contract is potentially worth 25% more, so the dollars are not too similar. On the other hand, Martin is probably seen as the more valuable player, and certainly the safer investment. Continue reading

The Salary Floor: How Dwight Howard and Josh Smith could be Rockets.

Yes, this is a Knicks blog, but the team’s offseason “splash” already happened with the pretty disastrous Andrea Bargnani trade. Signing vet minimum guys like Elton Brand could be worse, waiting for JR to determine whether he will get more than the non-taxpayer MLE is intriguing, and hoping that Pablo and Cope will split the taxpayer MLE is mildly exciting. Of course, none of those moves are as exciting as the Dwight Howard free agency watch.

According to reports from most sites, based on anonymous sources as usual, the Rockets have emerged as the frontrunners to land Howard. From a strictly basketball perspective, it’s difficult to see how the Rockets are not at the top of Dwight’s list. James Harden is a top ten player in the league, and, in his age 23 season, lead a skeleton Houston roster to the playoffs by averaging 26 ppg (3rd in the league) with a 23 PER (11th in the league). Howard and Harden would make a pretty devastating pick and roll combination. Heck, Omer Asik somehow averaged 10 ppg (in only 30 mpg) by setting screens for Harden and Lin. Dwight also seemingly has a pretty good relationship with Chandler Parsons who, in all seriousness, is good enough to be the third banana on a conference finalist.

Howard knows all this, and he all knows that if the Rockets are going to win a championship, Parsons or Lin cannot be the team’s third best player. According to the Jonathan Feigen at the Houston Chronicle (via Deadspin), Daryl Morey was asked, “how the Rockets were built to position themselves to be able to offer a second max contract.” That sounds a little ridiculous considering the Rockets just declined options on Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, as well as traded Thomas Robinson for picks and international players to get just enough cap room to offer Howard the max. On closer inspection, the idea of the Rockets obtaining Dwight Howard, and a second max-player like Josh Smith is not that ridiculous. Continue reading

Same Old Knicks?

Things have been dark here at Knicks Bricks for a long time, but our temporary shut down coincided with the Knicks brightest season in 13 years. There just wasn’t as much to criticize/complain/tweak, and for whatever reason that makes blogging more difficult (at least for me). Sadly, Adrian Wojnarwaski just posted that the Knicks obtained Andrea Bargnani for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, a future first rounder, and two future seconds.

We’ve seen this movie before with the Knicks and new Raptors GM, Masai Ujiri, in 2011. Back then the current executive of the year was running the Denver Nuggets who needed to rid themselves of the Carmelo Anthony circus. Even though the Knicks had cap room to sign Melo as a free agent, and should have had more leverage than the Nuggets, Ujiri patiently waited until James Dolan forced Donnie Walsh into an overpay. Like with Melo, it appears that the Knicks were bidding against themselves for Bargnani. Raptors fans had already turned on the 2006 number one overall pick and began to boo him when he entered the game. And therefore, before he eventually exhibited the lack of effort that results in a 7-footer averaging 4.8 rpg in 30.3 mpg for his career. Last season his 7.6 rebounding rate was dead last among the 70 qualifying power forwards. So major credit to Ujiri for getting a first rounder, and two second rounders in what should have been a salary dump/PR move. Continue reading

Time to Start JR

If the season ended today, Mike Woodson would either win Coach of the Year or finish second to Mark Jackson. The Knicks have exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic fan (Bakeshow), and Woodson has gotten guys with reputations of being difficult to coach to buy into the team concept.  He has masterfully blended the strengths of Chandler’s pick and roll game with the brilliance of Melo’s isolations.  The team is on a record-breaking pace for fewest turnovers and most three-pointers ever made.  The play calling after timeouts reminds us that Woodson can be just cerebral as his former boss Larry Brown, and he is able to do it without the baggage that comes with Brown.  His goatee is immaculate and he could make more money if quit coaching and wrote books on grooming facial hair.  Mike Woodson has even made me forget about another Mike who used to coach the Knicks.  It has been an amazing season.

I may (deservedly) be struck by lightning for questioning Woodson’s rotation since the Felton injury, but why is JR Smith not starting? Continue reading

Melo For MVP?

Last night the MVP chants at the Garden were easily the loudest I can remember for a Knicks player, and probably the loudest I’ve heard for any player (perhaps Kobe and LeBron had louder chants as visitors, but I doubt it). The MVP chants are relatively new to NBA arenas and started after Patrick Ewing retired, meaning Melo’s biggest rival in a Knicks uniform was likely Amar’e Stoudemire early in the 2010-11 season. So it’s not exactly a tremendous accomplishment to be the best Knicks MVP candidate in two decades, although Amar’e was playing well during his team record streak of 30 points per game. Still that shouldn’t detract from Carmelo’s performance a little more than a way a quarter of the way into the season.

In the last two games he has raised his game to another level by scoring 75 points and shooting 64% in only 67 minutes. The scorching play has ascended Anthony up to third in PER behind LeBron and Durant, and back to second in scoring behind Kobe. Right now Carmelo Anthony is a legitimate MVP candidate and could very well be the current favorite to win the award. Last night during the TNT telecast, Charles Barkley said that Melo would get his hypothetical vote for MVP because he was the best player on the team with the best record. Ignoring that Oklahoma City has a better record, and therefore Durant should win applying his logic, Barkley’s perspective on voting criteria is likely shared among actual voters. More broadly, voters can experience “voter fatigue” and vote for someone new or fall in love with the best story/narrative. Continue reading