tyson chandler

Game Preview 12/17: Rockets at Knicks

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for. Well, not really, but it is the long awaited return of Linsanity to the Mecca, the arena where Jeremy Lin became a house hold name practically overnight. Lin has struggled mightily this season though, averaging less than 11 points and 6 assists per game, to go along with his abysmal field-goal percentage (under 40%). The backcourt tandem of Lin and Harden has been questioned because of their styles of play and has left many wondering if they don’t click well. It hasn’t effected James Harden however, as he is averaging 25 points per game, the fifth most in the league.

This game is a lot bigger for the Knicks then Jeremy Lin’s return, as they should have some revenge on their mind. The last time these two teams got together the Knicks got ran out of the gym, giving up 131 points to the Rockets in Houston en route to a 28-point blowout, by far the Knicks worst defeat of the year. In that game Harden had 33 and Chandler Parsons added 31, and in the wise words of Bart Scott, the Knicks couldn’t stop a nose bleed. The Rockets knocked down 14 of 25 threes, something the Knicks cannot allow to happen again. The Knicks have gone 10-2 since that game, and have allowed 100 points in only four of those last 12 games. Their three-point shooting and lack of turnovers has been the catalyst all season, and could be tonight as well.

The Rockets allow opponents to shoot 38.9% from behind the arc, the fourth highest in the league according to HoopData.com. The Knicks shoot over 40% from downtown and lead the league in 3-point rate. The Rockets are just behind the Knicks in 3-point rate, so be prepared to see a lot of three-pointers tonight from both teams. With Carmelo Anthony questionable with a sprained ankle, the three-point shot will again be huge for the Knicks. Both Harden and Lin like to get out in transition, so the Knicks transition defense will be crucial tonight. The Rockets average 16.8 fast break points a game, and the Knicks need to make sure they get back on defense and force the Rockets to beat them in the half-court game. As we saw when he played in New York, Lin is susceptible to turnovers in the half court and could allow the Knicks to get out into their own fast breaks.

Keeping Omer Asik in check tonight will fall on Tyson Chandler. Asik killed the Knicks last meeting with 18 and 14, and is averaging over 11 boards a game on the season. With Rasheed Wallace likely out again, Chandler’s interior defense and rebounding will be essential to limiting Asik’s effectiveness.

Tonight will mark the return of another former Knick point guard, Toney Douglas. Douglas played well for a brief time a couple years ago and was the Knicks starting point guard against the Celtics in the playoff series, but seemed to regress significantly last season. Douglas was a part of the deal that brought Marcus Camby back to the Knicks, and has played pretty well for the Rockets this season.  He is averaging over 10 points per game over his last 10 games in 22+ minutes. The hard-working point guard was pretty much ran out of New York at the end of last season, and has found a decent fit with the Rockets.

This is a huge game for the Knicks even without the return of Jeremy Lin. That is the last thing on the Knicks’ minds as they want to avenge their worst loss of the season. Raymond Felton told reporters this morning that they owe the Rockets something, and I expect them to come out firing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

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The Knicks travel back to the Barclays Center tonight to take on the Nets in the second meeting of the NBA’s newest rivalry. The Nets won the first chapter of this saga in overtime, 96-89, back on Nov. 25 in Brooklyn where the Knicks were without Jason Kidd, but both teams have gone in different directions since that game. The Knickerbockers have won six of seven since the road loss to the Nets, while the Nets have dropped four straight games including three in a row at home. Tonight marks the end of a four-game home stand for the Nets, and the Knicks would love nothing more than to give them an 0-4 home trip at the Barclays.

Brook Lopez has missed the last five games for the Nets and  will miss tonight’s game as well. Lopez killed the Knicks in the first meeting with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. On the flip side, Tyson Chandler has been on a tear recently, averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and shooting over 75% from the field in his last 10 contests. He torched the Nets for 28 and 10 in the last meeting, and with no Lopez tonight, Chandler could be due for a huge game. He and Felton have developed a great chemistry and the high pick and roll, and even Felton’s drives to the basket that go for misses turn into assists for Chandler.

The Knicks and Nets currently sit atop the Atlantic Division standings, with the Knicks holding a 3 ½ game lead and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It is the latest the Knicks have been first in the conference since the 1994 season when they went to the Finals. With the rest of the division struggling a bit it’s a great chance for the Knicks to really put a stranglehold on it. I still think the Knicks and Nets are the two best teams in the division, and tonight is a statement game for both teams.

The impact of this game goes deeper than just the standings, for obvious reasons. All clichés aside, the Nets want to be the dominant team in New York, and are still the only Eastern Conference team to beat the Knicks. A rivalry has started and the Knicks need to claim their first victory in the battle of New York.

Heres what to watch for: More

Key Matchup Tonight 11/26: Chandler vs. Lopez

Well it’s time to redeem myself in this post. The last time I wrote about the matchup between Raymond Felton and Jeremy Lin and how Felton was going to outplay the former Knick point guard. Turns out I was wrong, completely wrong, as the Knicks didn’t even bother showing up in a 131-103 route to the Rockets. So here is another attempt at writing about a matchup, this one about the big men down low (pause..) for both the Knicks and Nets, Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez.

One of the major storylines for the Nets this season has been the play of Lopez. He leads them in scoring with 19 points per game and shooting 55% from the field, and has shown a more aggressive side to his game that has been lacking in his young career. Brook can be a dynamic center because of his ability to step out and hit the long jumper, making Chandler’s defense tonight that much more important.

Chandler won the DPOY award last year in deserving fashion, but so far this season hasn’t been the defensive force Knick fans have become accustomed to seeing. He has been nagged by illness and some injuries early on, and the Knicks need him to get back to being the anchor of that defense going forward. Early on, defense was the Knicks catalyst, but lately it has been their Achilles heel. They gave up 65 second-half points to the Mavericks last Wednesday, 131 points to the Rockets on Friday, and then despite winning yesterday, allowed the lowly Pistons to drop 100 at the Garden. The Knicks need to get back to playing the defense that allowed them to jump out to an undefeated start, especially against a Nets team that can really score.

One of the keys to tonight’s game will be the pick and roll defense of the Knicks. As Taylor pointed out in the game preview, the Knicks have allowed 1.08 points per possession to roll men, and the Nets run both Humphries and Lopez off pick and rolls. In order for the Knicks to be successful tonight, Chandler, Sheed and Camby will all have to do a good job of chasing Williams out of the paint and getting back to defend the big men. Easier said than done obviously as the Nets have some formidable scorers down low, but that is why Chandler needs to play a key role tonight.

It should be a great game tonight, and despite whatever hatred you may have for the other team, it’s good to have two relevant basketball teams in New York…But who am I kidding, I dislike the Nets very much, and hope the Knicks beat them down tonight.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

Is a Howard to Knicks Trade Even Possible?

ESPN New York’s Stephen A Smith reported yesterday on his show that the Orlando Magic inquired, the key word there, the New York Knicks about a potential Dwight Howard for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler trade. Given the contracts of Stoudemire and Chandler, the Knicks would have to also take back a sizable contract from Orlando. The 2011 figures in this rumored trade look like this:

Amar’e Stoudemire $18,217,705 million

Tyson Chandler $13,107,838 million

Total: $31,325,543 million

Dwight Howard: $17,885,400

The new NBA collective bargaining agreement contains new rules pertaining to trades. Taxpaying teams can take back 125% of their outgoing salary plus $100,000. Non-taxpaying teams (based on team salary after the trade) have two options as to how much salary they can take back. Non-taxpaying teams can acquire up to the lesser of 150% plus $100,000 OR  100% plus $5 million. Teams can trade up to $3 million in a trade but the Knicks used up that $3 million in the Tyson Chandler sign and trade.

The Knicks sit at $62,487,871 in salary. The Orlando Magic currently sit at $69,066,010 million dollars in salary. This figure puts them slightly under the $70 million luxury tax threshold. Here are the 2011 salaries for their players, significant to this trade, minus Dwight Howard:

Hedo Turkoglu: $10,600,000 million

Jameer Nelson $7,305,555 million

JJ Redick $6,500,000 million

Glen Davis $6,300,000 million

Jason Richardson $5,395,000 million

Chris Duhon $3,460,000 million

Quentin Richardson $2,446,200 million

Ryan Anderson $2,244,600 million

Earl Clark $1,200,000 million

Excluded: Von Wafer, Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Justin Harper, Larry Hughes

Because of the cap standings of both teams, both teams being under the luxury tax threshold, the Knicks and Magic have more flexibility with a potential trade. However, the Knicks swapping $31.3 million in salary with Orlando and taking in Howards $17.8 million in salary is not possible. Under the new CBA trade guidelines, the Knicks would have to take back another salary because swapping STAT and Chandler for Howard would not work. Here are some trade scenarios as pertained to each CBA rule:

  1. The Knicks take back 100% of Orlando’s salaries plus 5 million. The Magic would have to give up $26,325,543 million or more in salary to make this scenario work. That means in addition to Howard’s salary, the Magic would have to shed an additional $8,440,143 million in salary. Any trade of Howard likely will include the long term contract (3 years remaining, $34.2 mil) of Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu makes 10.6 million this season thus bring Orlando’s salary price up to $28,485,400 mil. This trade will work under the new CBA rules. However, the Magic would be taking back an additional $2,840,143 million in salary. Under the 100% + 5 mil rule, the Magic would have to remain under the tax. Therfore they would have to give up another contract resulting in an excess of $1,906,153 million. In my opinion, ex-Knicks Chris Duhon (3 years remaining, approx $11 mil in salary) and Quentin Richardson (2 years remaining with an additional players option for 2013, approx 5 mil in salary, $7.8 mil with option) would be the most likely candidates to be included in a trade. I believe that the basic framework of a Turkoglu/Howard/additional contract for Stoudemire/Chandler trade is the most likely trade if one is to come to fruition.
  2. The Knicks take back 150% of Orlando’s salaries plus $100k. The Magic would have to give up a little bit more than $20.8 million in salary to make this trade work. Given the long term contracts the Magic have on their roster along with the minor rebuilding they will need to do losing their star player, I believe the Magic would want to give up more than $20.8 million in a trade. In order to use this 100% + 100k clause, the Magic would have to give up between $20.8 million and $26.325 million (from the scenario above). However, if they were to give up Turkoglu, which they should and which they want to, they would eliminate this clause from being used in the CBA. This scenario would be plausible if the Knicks were going to take back any other Orlando player not named Hedo Turkoglu in a trade. This scenario is unlikely because I truly believe the Magic are going to part ways with Turkoglu as well as Howard in any trade they make.
  3. The Knicks and Magic never have serious discussions. Per the new CBA, Tyson Chandler, a newly acquired free agent, cannot be dealt until March 1st. If Orlando is swept off its feet by the Lakers, Clippers, Mavs, Nets or a mystery team, which I do not believe it will be, then they could move Howard before the Knicks can even discuss this trade seriously.
  4. The Knicks and Magic find a 3rd team. Conceivably, just like the trades that brought Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler to New York, the Knicks could find a 3rd team to deal with. Any trade scenario involving 3 teams would have to include more parts than just Turkoglu/Howard and Stoudemire/Chandler. At this point it is impossible to predict what 3rd team could be involved because no serious talks have gone on between Orlando and New York.

In conclusion, the main idea of this long and potentially head-ache enabling blog post is that financially the Knicks could pull off a trade for Dwight Howard. The new CBA allows it and both teams have contracts to make it work. The factors that would hold up a trade go beyond the financials. Whether the Magic are fully committed to trading Howard is up in the air. It is unknown whether the Knicks would part ways with newly acquired Chandler. As well as whether to give up Chandler, there have been no indications from the organization that Dolan is ready to break his loyalty with Stoudemire. It also remains unknown as to whether Orlando would even take this kind of deal. They would be locked into two long term big contracts and two decaying Amar’e Stoudemire knees. In my opinion, I do not believe this is a trade that will ever come to fruition. I think it makes obvious sense for the Knicks but I think the financials of the situation would far outweigh the on-court benefits for the Magic. I believe Amar’e and Tyson Chandler could fit nicely with that already strong Orlando team but I do not think the two players would launch the Magic into championship contention. Either way, Chandler cannot be dealt until March 1st so the Knicks will have their current center for at least 6 more weeks before they go chasing after another team’s star center. A lot can change in six weeks but if I had to bet a hypothetical house (seeming that I don’t own a house) on whether this trade would happen, I would bet against it.

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