Landry Fields

Ex-Knicks of the Week

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A new feature here at the Meloship, I introduce you to Ex-Knicks of the Week. Originally pitched to me by Matt Weiss (below), Ex-Knicks of the week will be a weekly feature on the site every Monday morning. We will pick either players that are in the NBA who have had great weeks, or we’ll just pick random ex-Knicks and write about them.

Matt Weiss (@thanksroy): Seeing as this whole ex-Knick of the week thing was my brain child, I thought I should set some ground rules. To be an ex-knick one must have suited up for the orange and blue, so traded picks (dammit we traded the picks that became Lamarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah), guys who re-routed through NY (Corey Brewer) and or picks who never played for us (with the exception of Freddy Weis because fuck him) dont count. Why is that? Because this was my idea and I get to set the rules.

When Carmelo Anthony entered our world on February 22nd 2011, he brought some friends with him. Some of those friends we knew (hello Renaldo!) some of them we soon wanted to forget (Shelden Williams) and one of them came with a big reputation. Melo was certainly the centerpiece of the deal, but at the time I was really excited about getting Chauncey Billups, aka Mr. Big Shot as a part of the deal. Just for the record I despise that nickname, but I used it anyway. Sure, sending Raymond away was tough as he had been a very productive Knick for the half season he was with us, but Chauncey came with a big reputation and a history of productivity and leadership. Amare was having an MVP caliber season, we were adding Melo, and with a floor general like Chauncey there was a genuine excitement this group could do some damage in the playoffs. The Knicks split their first two games post trade and then landed in Miami for a showdown with the heat. When a cobbled together starting lineup of Melo, Amare, Chauncey, Shawne Williams and Landry Fields came out with a thrilling victory the bar for that season was raised. “No one wants to face us in the first round” went my thinking and as usual we fans overreacted. What happens next is classic Knicks, Chauncey got banged up and missed some time and the team went 14-14 post trade. In their last 15 games the Knicks had both a 6 game losing streak and then a 7 game winning streak.
The team entered the playoffs as the 6 seed and faced the division champion Boston Celtics, who themselves were having issues as the playoffs began. After racing out to a record of 46-15 the Celtics ended the season 10-11. I was lucky enough to be in Boston for work that week and scalped my way into the TD Center and unabashedly rocked a melo jersey for game 1. I will save you the horror of the recap but the Knicks established an early lead before the Celtics did their usual Celtic thing and ripped our heart out. The difference was that we now had Chauncey. Even after the Celtics erased a 12 point half time lead Chauncey was cool, calm, collected (shout out Clyde) and made me feel good about the game when he had the ball. The funny thing is that he didn’t even play well in this game, and he still made me feel good about having him run the offense. And then Chauncey got hurt, and then KG set a horrendous moving screen that wasn’t called, and then Ray Allen hit a three that caused me to slink out of the arena. Amare hurt his back dunking in warm ups before game two, and by the end of that game, on the most critical offensive possession of the season the Knicks trotted out Jared Jeffries, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas and Roger Mason alongside Melo. Our season was over and we all knew it. More

What Happens Now to Anthony Carter?

With all the Knicks postseason talk about bringing in centers, the draft with Shumpert and Big Jorts and Mike D’Antoni’s defensive coordinator search, there has been no talk about Anthony Carter’s future with the team. The forgotten man was one of the better bench players down the stretch for the Knicks last season and I think the Knicks need to take a long hard look at bringing him back. Granted the first round selection of Iman Shumpert takes away another guard spot on the roster but I think Carter still brings alot to the table. Think back to game 4 against Boston when Carter led a fourth quarter comeback and hit a 3 to get the Knicks within 5 before Boston pulled away from the ailing Knicks. He showed that even at age 36, he still can be a very serviceable emergency point guard and I wouldn’t be so fast to throw him on the street now that Shumpert is on the team. Here is what the current guard situation looks like assuming Carter comes back:

PG Billups, Shumpert, Douglas, Carter
SG Fields, Douglas, Walker, Rautins

I think going in with Billups, Shumpert, Carter and Douglas as a combo guard would be a very good point guard rotation. I am not saying Carter deserves 20 minutes a game or even a bench spot, but why couldn’t Carter be a 12th man? Why not keep him around to mentor the younger players? He clearly knows how to play defense and how to bring energy every night. He can contribute big time in the locker room and if injuries happen he can step in and make a contribution. Now he is not a superstar or even an above average player but with Carmelo and Amare being the stars, we need high energy players willing to scrap and claw on defense and Carter is that kind of player.

As Amare says “If everybody on the team is a leader then the team is going to be better”. Anthony Carter is a leader. Despite his lack of elite ability, age and stature on the depth chart, he is a leader. He made the most of his opportunities last season and he made a great impression on the coaching staff. Just because we drafted Iman Shumpert does not mean that Carter deserves to be shown the door. I would endorse him coming back even as the 15th man, as long as he is around the team he will have a positive impact. I am a big Anthony Carter fan and, bias aside, he deserves to be back with this team next season and the team could use veteran leaders like him.

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Knicks Options for Thursday’s Draft

     In Thursday’s NBA draft the New York Knicks hold the 17th selection and are looking to purchase at least one more selection late in the first or in the second round. To the Knicks, this draft is just as important as acquiring Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were. This is a draft that is going to determine whether we remain a 50 win playoff team or a 60 win championship contender. With 2 superstars and a potential 3rd on the way, the Knicks regular season success is almost a given but it’s what happens in the playoffs that really counts. This draft will provide either a springboard into greatness or a burden that keeps us in mediocrity in the vastly improving eastern conference.
     First and foremost, I believe the Knicks badly want BYU point guard Jimmer Fredette and they are desperately trying to trade up to grab him. I have heard rumors that they want to trade up above Utah at 12 to select Fredette. Toney Douglas and the 17th pick are primary what has been rumored to being offered by New York for this selection. While Fredette has the potential to be a great player in this league, I do not believe he is going to live up to his potential nor do I believe he is a good fit for the New York Knicks. The last thing we need is a ball dominant point guard to go along with our ball dominant small forward who already struggles to find chemistry  with our ball dominant power forward. In addition all 3 players are notoriously poor defensive players under a head coach, who I do like, that has notoriously been reluctant to emphasize defense in his up tempo coaching style. It just is not a great fit with the Knicks right now and I believe Douglas is a better player already and will be moving forward. He plays great defense, something we badly need, and has shown the ability to be an absolutely lethal 3 point shooter. I believe there is a lot of value in the mid first- second round portion of this draft and the Knicks can get a lot out of staying put at 17, keeping Douglas and passing on Jimmer.
     If the Knicks stay put at 17 they should have plenty of solid options. It’s been rumored that projected lottery picks Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo may slip all the way to 17. Walker is a versatile guard who can play point or shooting guard, he’s a great scorer, good defensive player, he’s clutch and he’s from the Bronx. He’d be a wonderful fit with the Knicks. Same for Bismack Biyombo, a 6’9 power forward/ center who is probably the best athlete in this class. His offensive game needs work but his athleticism, shot blocking, rebounding and post defense really would be a perfect fit next to Amare Stoudemire and would improve our defense greatly. Also the Knicks love Washington State shooting guard Klay Thompson, a knock down shooter, but there is little doubt that he will be gone by 17. In the likely scenario that all 4 players (including Jimmer) are gone by 17, there are still good players for the Knicks to take. I believe the Knicks will be looking at Morehead St Forward Kenneth Faried, USC center Nikola Vucevic, Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert, Providence guard Marshon Brooks and Kansas guard Josh Selby. I think the main 3 guys that the Knicks will be looking at from that group are Shumpert, Faried and Selby in that order. New York has made it no secret that they love Shumpert and there’s a lot to love about him. He’s a 6’6 point guard with a 6’10 wingspan, he’s a lockdown defender and he’s very athletic. He’s been so impressive that the Phoenix Suns are widely rumored to have tagged Shumpert as their guy with the 13th pick. If Shumpert is gone, I believe the Knicks will look long and hard at Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried. I believe he’s going to be the next Dennis Rodman only that Faried is a better offensive player and doesn’t have 7,000 tattoos, bleached hair or multiple nose rings. Faried is a high character, high energy, rebounding power forward who also averaged 17 points a game to go along with his 14 rebounds a game during his senior season. The only knock on him is that he’s 6’6 but he does have a 7 foot wingspan and is incredibly athletic. I have heard multiple people say “if he was 6’10 he’d be the first pick in the draft”. I think next to Melo and Stat, Faried would thrive on the offensive glass. I think he’d be a wonderful addition coming off the bench and getting 8 rebounds and 2-3 baskets a game. The player I really do not want to see taken here is Kansas guard Josh Selby. He’s been questioned as a pure point guard, maybe having skills more suited to an undersized shooting guard (kind of like Toney Douglas). He’s a huge character risk. He had problems in high school and at Kansas. Last season he was benched for most of the second half of the season. Selby thought he should have been the star of the team even though he didn’t play anywhere near that level. He’s also a CAA guy, the agency that seems to be running the Knicks right now, which is why I think he’s a dark horse to be the pick at 17 although I’m praying that I am wrong. I believe if the Knicks pass on Selby at 17, they will try to purchase his rights later in the draft.
     The Knicks do not currently own another pick in the draft after 17 but it’s widely believed that they will purchase at least one more pick before the draft ends. In the NBA, a team can pay up to 3 million dollars on a transaction. I believe the Knicks will give up at least 6 million dollars in draft picks. Some potential teams who might sell to the Knicks would be the Bulls, who own picks 28 and 30, Lakers, who own 41, 56 and 58, and the Kings who own 35 and 60. While it is not as clear who the Knicks will target with their acquired picks, there are a couple players I think the Knicks may target. I mentioned Josh Selby who is probably a late 1 – early 2 in terms of value, also Jeremy Tyler from Japan, Boston College’s Reggie Jackson and UCLA’s Malcolm Lee. Tyler is an intriguing forward prospect as he is 6’11, athletic and potential packed but has character issues after skipping his senior year of high school and struggling mightily in Japan. Reggie Jackson is a true point guard with a 7 foot wingspan who plays great defense. Malcolm Lee is a hybrid guard who is long and athletic and excels defensively.
     If I was drafting for the Knicks at 17, pending the fall of Biyombo or Walker, I would select Iman Shumpert. I think his size and defensive ability on the perimeter would give us a great weapon off the bench. With our undersized front court, I think we need to stockpile size in the back court. Landy Fields, 6’7, already fills one of those roles, I think the 6’6 Shumpert would be another great addition. If Shumpert is gone, I would draft Faried or consider a possible trade down with a team like Chicago or maybe even to accumulate picks next year, as we have 0 next year, in what will be considered a stronger draft class.
     Thursday night is very important for the Knicks, with a great draft they can be championship contenders, with a poor draft they could be average. I think this is just as important as getting our stars was as we have numerous holes to fill. I look for Shumpert or Faried to be the pick and I think the Knicks will get 2 others. Regardless of what happens, it will be interesting to see what happens.

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State of the Knicks 5/30/11

Overview: The 42-40 New York Knicks had high hopes for the playoffs after qualifying for the first time since 2003. The Knicks battled key injuries as Amare Stoudemire was injured badly for games 2,3 and 4, while Chauncey Billups was injured late in game 1 and missed the entire rest of the series. The Knicks were swept by Boston 4-0. They go into this offseason of CBA uncertainty with optimism not seen by this franchise in many years. While Billups’ 14.2 million dollar option has been picked up, there is still plenty of work to be done in terms of working the roster. Of course resigning Donnie Walsh should be priority number 1, although that is said to be done sometime this week. Overall the team is headed in the right direction but needs some work with its bench as well as adding a big man or two. The Knicks select number 17 in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft

Guards: The point guard situation is filled with uncertainty. Billups’ knee is not all the issues we have. While it’s critical that his knee reaches 100% before the season (if we have a season) starts, the backup point guard position is just as critical. While Toney Douglas played that role well last season, his size suits him better as a backup shooting guard. The backup point guard position is a position that many expect to be filled with the 17th pick in the draft. Anthony Carter’s contract is up and it’ll be interesting to see if he is re-signed. The coaching staff loves his professionalism and leadership and I was impressed with his play down the stretch, especially in game 4 of the playoffs as he sparked a Knicks comeback that ultimately fell short. As far as the shooting guard situation, the bench spots will be determined by what happens in the draft. Landry Fields should be the starter next season, and it is imperative to the teams success that he finds his pre-carmelo trade form. If he cannot, then suddenly the Knicks have a gaping hole at the shooting guard position. While Bill Walker and Andy Rautins will both be under contract next season, I’m not high on either player. Everyone seems to think Walker is okay but I think he’s an oaf, in the playoffs he had like 6 offensive fouls. I’m not a fan. Rautins is a wildcard because we haven’t seen what he can do yet. He was a great shooter in college but we know that doesn’t always translate to the NBA. Roger Mason played well in the 2nd half of the year when he got minutes due to injuries to Walker. Mason also played decently in the playoffs when his name was called but he’s undersized and in D’Antoni’s doghouse. Roger Mason is the only shooting guard who’s contact is expired and he is expected to be let go next season.

Forwards: Armelo, Camare, Batman and Robin. Whatever you wanna call them, they are the keys to the 2011 Knicks season. How they mesh is absolutely key to the offense and how they evolve into 2 way players is key to our defense. Offensively, it has to be about ball movement. While Amare and Carmelo are both great isolation players, the key to their cohesion is going to be ball movement. Granted they are dominant scorers but they aren’t the only scorers on this team. Landry Fields, Chauncey Billups, Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas are all lethal 3 point shooters. In order for this team to make the jump to 50-60 wins next season, the offense needs to feature more than 2 players. Don’t get me wrong, they both need their touches on offense but the throw it to Melo, stand around and watch offense needs to be abolished next season. Same goes for Amare, although he was good at feeding Carmelo on cuts and screens when the plays presented themselves. It shouldn’t be a competition for points, rather a mesh of efficient offense that results in high percentage shots being buried by two of the top 10 scorers in our league today. Defensively, the Knicks are a work in progress. The Heat have shown us that defense wins in the playoffs. As much as I hate Miami, I give their guys credit, namely James, Wade and Bosh, for transforming themselves to a dominant defensive team as well as a quality offensive team run by the big 3 (or 2 depending on how you look at it). This transformation needs to be executed by Melo and STAT as well. If the Knicks can at least get stops when needed, the sky will be the limit for this team that is just loaded with scoring. In terms of the backups, Derrick Brown, Shawne Williams and Jared Jeffries are all free agents this summer. Renaldo Balkman, acquired in the Denver deal, is the only backup forward that remains under contract. I believe that all 3 are decent players but depending on who we get on the market, all 3 are extremely expendable. I love Jeffries but his lack of offense is just sickening to watch. If he’d come back, it would have to be on a veteran’s minimum and he’d have a very minimal role (I would hope). Derrick Brown is very interesting to me. As shown in the Toronto game at MSG, he’s incredibly athletic. He’s a guy we should try to keep for cheap and develop. His athleticism gives me reason to believe he can be a serviceable backup wing player much like Shannon Brown from the Lakers. The player I believe we are most likely to resign is Shawne Williams. While he, like Fields, crapped out a bit at the end of the year, he proved to be a versatile player (having guarded Dwight Howard at one point) and a potent 3 point shooter. I think he has the toughness that we need on this team. We need some Mason’s and Oakley’s that will enforce and I think Williams can be that sort of player.

Centers: Ronny Turiaf was the playoff starter and he’s likely coming back on his 4 million dollar player option. I like Turiaf but not at 4 mil a season. He’s a high energy game but any more than 18 minutes a game and he wears down. I’d like him on a vet minimum and coming off the bench, he’d be a nice piece. Jeffries and Shelden Williams were the other two players who saw minutes at center. While Shelden Williams played well in the season, he saw no minutes in the playoffs leading me to believe he will not be back. The big story for the Knicks at center is Jerome Jordan, the 7 footer we purchased from Milwaukee last summer. He played this past year in Serbia and played well averaging 9 points and 4 boards a game. He should be a strong piece coming off the bench, or maybe starting a la Timofey Mozgov last season. This, along with Point guard is a position that may be addressed with the 17th pick in the draft.

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