Shumpert, Balkman Shine as Knicks Beat New Jersey 92-83

It was an interesting pre-season start for the Knicks as they beat the Nets at the Prudential Center 92-83. Of all players, Renaldo Balkman led the team in scoring with a game high 20 points. Melo added 17 and rookie Iman Shumpert had 16. Shumpert and Balkman had twitter buzzing as they both impressed with their energy and effort. Balkman obviously needs to have 10 more games like this before today’s performance can be taken seriously moving forward but Shumpert raised a lot of eyes today. The already maligned Toney Douglas again struggled to run the point today. He did nothing to silence his critics, including myself, that see Douglas more as a shooting guard then a starting point guard.

Other points from the game:

  • Melo, Amar’e and Douglas all looked to be healthy today. All three players showed signs of rust but none of it looked health related.
  • Jared Jeffries was actually impressive today. I do like what Jeffries brings to this team and today he showed why. He took 3 charges and initiated a couple traps on defense. For a vet minimum, he is a nice fit on this team. He can guard all 5 positions on defense and can make game changing plays, like charges, on defense.
  • Josh “Jorts” Harrellson, already a fan favorite, did a lot today to justify his fanfare. He stroked a three early and played hard defense throughout the game. I originally liked him when we drafted him and he did not disappoint today.
  • Landry Fields struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor. He looked to me that he was pressing today. It is way to early to give up on him or relegate him to the bench because he still brings solid defense and athleticism to the floor. I liked the way he was aggressive today and I ultimately think he will be okay.
  • Overall, I thought the ball movement on offense and defensive energy today were fantastic. Last year the problem with the offense was how stagnant it became after the trade. I thought the ball moved nicely throughout the game. Melo, Douglas and Stoudemire all delivered some nice passes today. I think with more time under D’Antoni, this offense will start churning out 100 point performances regularly. Defensively the energy was great today. There were times when the defense struggled and the Nets shot 48% from the floor but the energy was good. The Knicks won the turnover battle 25-14 which is a testament to how energetic they were on both ends.
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Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

  • The health of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Toney Douglas.
    • All three guys played with injures throughout the playoffs last season and their health is key to the Knicks success this year. Stoudemire, marred by injuries throughout his career, is said to have strengthened his injured back during the off-season. Anthony had knee and elbow procedures done during the off-season. He also hyperextended his knee earlier this week but is said to be fine. Douglas had shoulder surgery in May and is thought to be completely healthy.
  • The point guards
    • Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and rookie Iman Shumpert are the point guards currently on the Knicks roster. Douglas has experience running the point but often plays erratically and plays out of control at times. During the playoffs, after Chauncey Billups’ injury, Douglas struggled to run the point effectively as the Knicks were swept 4-0 by Boston. Mike Bibby is 105 years old. He was god awful for the Heat last year. He could not play defense, shoot effectively or run with opposing point guards. However, with a new supporting cast and an offensive system known to get the best out of players, Bibby may end up bringing some vet leadership to this Knicks team. I believe he can still shoot and run the point somewhat effectively. Bibby won’t show up on ESPN like Chris Paul lobbing dimes to Amar’e and Melo but I think Bibby can give this team 10-15 effective minutes a night. Rookie Iman Shumpert is an athletic marvel. He is 6’5, fast and he can jump out of the building. He has all the tools to be an elite point guard. The question for him is going to be how quickly he can adopt D’Antoni’s offensive system. I think he has a good shot to start by midseason if he plays well. However, knowing D’Antoni, if Shumpert struggles early he may be exiled to the Roger Mason section of the bench.
  • Who steps up off the bench?
    • Right now, the bench looks like this:

PG: Mike Bibby, Iman Shumpert

SG: Shumpert, Bill Walker (sigh)

SF: Walker, Renaldo Balkman (double sigh)

PF: Jared Jeffries

C: Jerome Jordan, Josh Harrellson

Guard Devin Green and center Chris Hunter are training camp bodies and I would be surprised to see either player get more than a few minutes today.

    • Unfortunately, with the 66 game compressed season, the Knicks will be very reliant on their bench this year. I say unfortunately because right now this bench is in flux. There is no clear 6th man. There is no proven bench scorer who is good for 8-10 points per game. Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson are both promising young players but both seem to be works in progress at this point. Shumpert has the potential to be a difference maker off the bench but has yet to prove anything. Until these young players show their worth, this bench will be under a microscope all year. Obviously Knick fans cannot stand Jeffries. I actually like what he brings on defense, effort and versatility, but he is an unbelievable hinderance on the offensive end of the floor. Balkman is just anemic. There is very little he does well. He will put in effort defensively but he also brings nothing offensively. Balkman is a bonafide scrub. ¬†Obviously I am not a big Bill Walker fan. He can’t dribble or defend with any effectiveness. ¬†I will say he is a good 3 point shooter and he is athletic but if he is going to be relied upon off the bench this year we need more than that. We need him to defend well, especially if he is the backup 3, and we need solid all around production out of Walker’s game. I just do not believe he is capable. It will be interesting to see if any bench players leave their mark against the Nets because right now this bench looks very weak.[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

 

Knicks Dropped the Ball on Shawne Williams

Glen Grunwald is off to a great start as interim-general manager. Adding Tyson Chandler was a great move. Getting rid of chronic three-point brickman Chauncey Billups was an even greater move. Grunwald’s first mistake however is a huge one. Knick free agent forward Shawne Williams has signed a 2 year $6 million contract with the rival New Jersey Nets. The importance of Shawne Williams should not be understated. This was a guy who played with a chip on his shoulder and gave his full effort every game. He’s not a perfect player by no means but for this team he would have been a near perfect role player.

What are the biggest needs of the team right now? Shooters and big bodies to boost the defense. What is Shawne Williams? A 6’9 shooter who hit 40% of his 3′s last year and can play 3 defensive positions. He was the ideal fit for this team. He brings defense, 3 point shooting and toughness. So why wasn’t he brought back?

The Knicks waited and waited and waited to bring Williams back. Getting Chandler was great but I believe their next move should have been to re-sign Williams. Instead, the Grunwald-led Knicks pursued luxury free agents. Free agent guards JJ Barea and Jamal Crawford were both offered contracts while Williams sat on the back burner. As he sat and waited, other teams offered him more lucrative contracts. Clearly Williams, if you look at his twitter account, wanted to return to the Knicks but he was forced to wait and wait. Are Barea and Crawford more dynamic bench scorers? Absolutely. Does this team need scorers over defenders? Absolutely not. And Williams is not inept offensively. He shot 40% from 3 last season. We need shooters. You hear talk about guys like Michael Redd and you hear that the Knicks need more shooters. You hear about Mo Evans (who we also struck out on) and Troy Murphy and how we need big defensive bodies. We could have kept Shawne Williams who fills both roles. Instead the Knicks failed to land Barea, Crawford and Williams and now are left with Renaldo Balkman and Billy “No Skills” as the backup small forwards.

Shawne Williams absolutely deserves a bit of blame. If he wanted to return so badly, he would have accepted less money to come back to the Knicks. However, I place 90% of the blame on the Knicks. Williams was a low salary project last season. He was coming off a season in which he hit an emotional high between getting a second chance in the league and playing a key role on a contender. It was a great story in every aspect. But Williams isn’t a multi-million dollar earning star. He played on a vet minimum last season. 2 million dollars is a lot of money to anyone but especially to a guy like that. By having Williams sit around and watch the team pursue free agent after free agent, the Knicks set themselves up to lose him. How can the Knicks claim a commitment to him when potentially they would have asked him to take another vet minimum? I can’t blame Williams fully because I believe he felt a bit betrayed and he had a better offer on the table. The Knicks should have made him a top priority and now they are left with a big void on the bench.

There is not a clear path for the Knicks go to here. I really have trouble believing they will go into the season with Balkman and Walker as the backup small forwards. I think Williams can be replaced but there does not seem to be a viable option out there right now. Losing Williams can be overcome but I really do believe he was a perfect fit for this team. The Knicks are now in free agent limbo at the small forward position and the hated Nets now have Williams. Glen Grunwald has done a great job so far but he really dropped the ball on this one.

Remember When Melo was Hated in Knick Nation?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK1J-3FBXv0]

I thought about this the other day. It is incredibly ironic that Melo is on the Knicks now. His most infamous episode as a player was when he threw the bitch punch at Mardy Collins at the garden and then ran away. I remember people were calling him Carmela Anthony because of the bitch-ness of his slap/punch.

Melo definitely has turned a corner. He no longer performs these acts of jackassery on and off the court. Obviously it is great to have Melo on the squad cause he’s a top 10 player in the league but it is just so funny to me that he used to be hated by Knick fans.

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New MSG Promo

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN95MhM7vlQ&feature=youtu.be] [twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Crawford to Decide on Free Agency Tomorrow

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO1nUfObERw&feature=youtu.be]

Tomorrow, free agent Jamal Crawford will decide on which team he will play for this season. He is deciding between the Knicks, Trailblazers and Kings. The Knicks can only offer him the room exception for 1 year 2.5 mil. The Blazers can offer him the full midlevel exception at 5 mil and the Kings can offer more than that. On twitter, there has been much fan support for Crawford’s return to the garden but it is not looking like it will happen. Most people, including myself, believe Crawford will land in Portland. He will make 5 mil this year instead of 2.5 mil and Portland is closer to his Seattle home.

Shawne Williams is also a free agent and has garnered interest and contract offers from other teams. I would like to think the Knicks can get Crawford and keep Williams but if Crawford were to be a Knick, Williams would have to sign a vet minimum. I don’t think that will happen. At the end of the day it might be Crawford or Williams instead of Crawford and Williams. Or worst case, the Knicks lose out on both guys…

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Anthony Hyperextends Knee at Practice

It doesn’t sound serious but its a bit scary especially with no viable scoring threat behind him. D Brown is gone and Shawne Williams hasn’t been resigned. Right now if Melo went down for any period of time, Balkman and Walker would probably be the guys backing him up. Thats scary. Really really scary.

This is probably what i’d do to myself if I had to watch Bill Walker play an entire season as the starting small forward

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S7PbLo5FUE] [twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Knicks Miss Out on Barea

Free agent point guard JJ Barea has agreed to a 4 year $19 million contract with the T’Wolves. David Kahn strikes again as the Timberwolves now have 17 point guards on their roster. He would have been a nice fit off the bench with the Knicks but his tiny frame makes him a liability on defense. I’m not too bummed out that the Knicks won’t have Barea. I’d like Jamal Crawford but that doesn’t look like it will happen either. The team seems contented to go with Douglas, Shumpert and Bibby at point guard this season. Maybe another veteran point will fill out the roster but I think primarily those are the guys who will play. As long as Douglas doesn’t play 7000 miles an hour and take dribbling tips from Bill Walker then we will be okay.

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Jerome Jordan on the Verge of Becoming a Knick

From Marc Berman of the NY Post

Add another 7-footer to the team.

The Post has learned 7-foot center Jerome Jordan, a 2010 second-round draft pick, will be the next addition to the Knicks’ roster as he was involved in heavy contract negotiations late last night to bring him to New York, according to his agent Todd Ramasar.

As I said last night, I think this is a great move and the perfect time to bring Jordan over. If he has any game, which it looks like he does, then he will be a great addition to our front court as the backup center. The Knicks just went from being weak down low to have two 7 footers at the center position and arguably one of the top three greatest scoring power forwards in NBA history. I am unbelievably excited about this upcoming season because now the Knicks will have some toughness and size around the rim and that should make for an improved defense. Defense is now the key for this team and they have improved very quickly.

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Turiaf Headed to Wizards

So Ronny will be gone after all. This contracts the sign and trade talk we heard earlier because now the Knicks have the cap space to sign Chandler as a free agent. Its sad to see Ronny go. Even if he’s made of glass and he can only play 15 min a game, I think he would have been a solid backup center behind Chandler. Now I think Jerome Jordan has to be brought over unless the Knicks are going to play Jeffries as the backup center. If Jeffries is the backup 5, then who plays the backup 4? I think they should make Jeffries the backup 4 and then have Jordan and Harrelson battle it out for the backup center spot.

I’m going to miss this

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsU3sFEZn6s] [twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']