Tag:Amar'e Stoudemire
Posted on: March 23, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 11:54 am
 

D'Antoni blames ball movement for Knicks woes

Mike D'Antoni says the ball is "sticking" and it's got to move more. But isn't the addition of Carmelo going to make that a little difficult, realistically?
Posted by Matt Moore

Being part of a professional basketball team in New York is pretty awesome. You get access to all the culture, the parties, the money, the perks. You're a national figure and when things are good, you're the toast of the biggest town there is. Of course, when things go badly after you've made a huge move to acquire a second All-Star and go 7-9 with losses to the Celtics in a huge collapse and two losses to the Cavaliers, you get the other side of it. Which is a billion media members asking similar questions and expecting different answers. But Mike D'Antoni has always been an affable, reasonable guy, and he told the reporters the truth. Which is that the offense is struggling because of pace, and that pace is dictated by the ball sticking. From the New York Times
“Our offense has slowed down to where our pace is not good,” D’Antoni said. “The ball is not moving, it’s sticking. We’ve played a lot of games. I don’t want to give excuses, but at the same time it’s the fourth game in five nights. They get into you.” “We’ve got to make quicker decisions,’’ he added. “The ball’s got to go. And especially in the fourth quarter we bogged down.”
via Knicks Keep Looking for Answers - NYTimes.com.

More on the Knicks
Perfectly reasonable coach response.

But can I lodge a follow-up?

Who in the name of Clyde did D'Antoni think he was getting when he got Carmelo Anthony

Anthony's an elite scorer and can be a terrific rebounder when he puts his head to it. His defensive prowess even has some upside that would make you optomistic were it not for the fact that no D'Antoni team ever puts an emphasis on defense. But ball movement? 

Anthony has the second highest percentage of possessions being used per game in the league behind Kobe Bryant. His assist rate isn't bad, comparable to Kevin Durant. But when you're using that many possessions it's hard to create many assists. In short, Anthony's a ball-stopper. Always has been. He'll take several seconds sizing up the defender in ISO on the wing to see if he has room for a pull-up J. He's not good at simply keeping the ball moving, as he wants to create with it. Which would be great if he was creating more offense, but he's most often just creating more field goal attempts, which is not the same thing (especially with New York's rebounding core). 

This is who Anthony is, and it's one of the concerns people had with the Knicks acquiring Anthony at all, much less for the massive trade package they surrendered in the deal. D'Antoni is going to have to get it across to him that he can't be the same player he's been if the Knicks are going to have a cohesive system under D'Antoni. 

The problem is that's probably not Carmelo Anthony's biggest concern. 

The Knicks face the Magic Wednesday night. 
Posted on: March 22, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Why are the Knicks playing so much slower?

Posted by Royce Young



Last night against the Celtics, the New York offense went completely into the toilet in the second half. The team scored only 35 points the last 24 minutes and was outscored 24-3 in the last seven minutes. I talked a lot about it already, but I couldn't help but think today, what gives?

I mean, the Knicks have two of the top 10 or 15 offensive players in the league, maybe the top offensive coach in the game and a quality point guard that knows how to run the show. Why would they have problems?

One thing comes to mind: They're playing slower. Much slower. For the season, the Knicks play at a pace of 95.7 (second in the league), but over the last five, that number has dipped to 92.3 (that's bottom half). During that stretch, New York has averaged 102.6 points per game, as opposed to 106.2, which is what they average on the season.

Look at Monday night against the Celtics. The Knicks played at a Blazers-esque 89 possessions for the game. That's slow , especially for a team that prides itself on running and gunning. Hoopdata ran some numbers on how the Knicks have slowed down and what's become clear is that instead of setting tempo and making opponents uncomfortable, New York is playing to its opponents pace. There's no more

After watching closely, it comes down to two things to me: 1) It's an intentional effort to slow the game down which results in fewer defensive possessions, where the Knicks struggle and 2) Carmelo Anthony slows them down by himself.

What do I mean by that? Well, it's simple: Melo stops the ball. The Mike D'Antoni offense is all about quick passing, movement and shooting. But when the ball goes to Anthony, it stops right there. He's not a willing passer, at least in the sense that he doesn't like to pass without first looking at his chances of scoring.

It's kind of weird though because it's not like Melo isn't used to tempo. Remember, he played in Denver and George Karl had that team running. The Nuggets were a top five pace squad. So like I said, it's a combination of intentionally slowing down along with Melo stopping the ball. The real question is why, because as Monday's loss to Boston showed, it's frustrating. The Knicks tried to beat the Celtics at their game which is like me trying to beat up Brock Lesnar without a baseball bat and six other friends.

Obviously at this moment, the adjustment's not working. D'Antoni keeps talking about how they're working and how they're trying to get there. Maybe what he means is that they're making an adjustment to a new style. The Knicks want to go more defensive and so as a result, the offense is going to suffer for now. Maybe it's a trade they're willing to deal with while they adjust.

Whatever the case, it's pretty ugly right now. The Knicks aren't running, they aren't scoring and they aren't playing defense. It's confusing because the team is built to get out in transition and with two terrific offensive players, the fact they can't score is a real brainbuster.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:41 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Knicks fail on both ends in loss to Boston

Posted by Royce Young



There has been a lot of attention on the struggling New York defense. There has been a lot of attention on the sinking Boston offense. And wouldn't you know it, the two teams played each other Monday night.

And for 24 minutes, depending on perspective, the Knicks' defense was solid. Or the the Celtic offense was still sputtering. At halftime, New York led 51-37 as Boston was completely out of sync. It was all jumpers, stale movement and the Knicks did a nice job of funneling the ball back to Rajon Rondo late in the shot clock.

But here's the thing about winning, especially against good teams: You have to do that same thing for the next 24 minutes. Instead, the Celtics outscored the Knicks 59-35 in the second half, holding Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony scoreless in the fourth quarter. Boston went on a strong 13-0 run keyed by Paul Pierce to flip a nine-point deficit into a 10-point lead by the final buzzer. The Knicks looked clueless, while the Celtics looked focused.

A lot of the issue was the defense for the Knicks which was terrible in the second half, but that's understood. The defense isn't good and has never pretended to be so. If you can get halves like New York did for the first 24 minutes, you're thrilled. Then you just have to expect to score enough in the second half to win. That wasn't the case. The halfcourt execution was downright terrible for the Knicks. Confusion is the best word I can think of to describe it. Everything was around the perimeter without any real movement toward the basket. It was almost as confusing to watch as it actually was on the floor.

Consider this: In the fourth quarter, Boston had 33 points on 21 possessions; the Knicks had 17 on 21. That honestly says it all. One team got the necessary stops and coverted. The other didn't. Guess who won.

The Celtics needed this game though and that wasn't helping matters for New York. Boston had been sliding, especially offensively. And nothing helps an offense get back on track than 48 minutes at Madison Square Garden. For those first 24, things looked bad for the Celtics. The Knicks were working and the Celtics were sputtering. Then it all reversed course the last half of the game.

Again, defense is the buzzword for the Knicks but accept it, it's not good. It won't be good this season. With Amar'e and Melo on the floor, this team isn't going to be able to lock down. Ronny Turiaf provided some nice energy in the first half on the defensive end, but the real issue is on the other end. The Knicks just can't try and beat people with defense. That's insane. Reality is, they choked on the offensive end. Melo and Ama're scoreless in the final 12 minutes? That's a bad gameplan.

The effort was there, the energy was there. I don't think the Knicks lacked in those areas. (Though maybe the Celtics had a bit more, especially the last eight minutes.) Where they lacked was in their offensive execution. There was no spacing, no ball movement, no real understanding or purpose of what they wanted to accomplish.

The loss Monday puts the Knicks at 7-9 since the Melo trade. Are the Knicks better today than they were in February? I think so. I'm not sure though. They miss players like Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler who could space the floor. They miss Raymond Felton and the ability to go pick-and-roll late in games with Amar'e. And they miss that extra energy those guys played with. Before, it was all about working together. Now, it's like the Knicks are all pointing at one another waiting for someone to do something.

This Knick team isn't going anywhere this year and nobody should pretend it is. The roster has only played about a month together and there's a clear lack of chemistry there. They have 13 games left to try and at least become a dangerous threat heading into the postseason though, which I think they can be. Having two players the caliber of Melo and Amar'e makes you dangerous. And while better defense is a must to get to the Celtic level of contention, late-game execution has to come first before they can even think about getting there.
Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 3:14 am
 

Dr. D'Antoni and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistent Knicks

The new-look Knicks have had supreme highs and desperate lows. So what's the story with the Knicks' inconsistency?
Posted by Matt Moore





There is no more valued word among NBA coaches than "consistency." Consistency is the mark of greatness, the key to success, the building block of progress, and the thing that is most elusive for teams during a season. Getting players to exert the same level of effort, focus, understanding, and execution across any stretch during 82 games is nearly impossible, made all the more difficult by injury, youth, chemistry, suspension, and ego. So how do you work to get consistency from a team? You practice, endeavor, train, bond, and most of all, try and bring in players that will provide that kind of effort and production night in and night out. The easiest way to do that is to have star players. Veterans who know how to execute, and can duplicate that performance at a high level on a Thursday night, nationally televised game against a Western Conference title contender and on a Tuesday night League-Pass-er against a lottery squad. Star players in the NBA are more than just players capable of incredible highlight reels and singular stats-stuffed box scores. They bring it each and every night. Superstars are how you make your team more consistent. 

So why are the new-look Knicks so inconsistent?

Since trading for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are 6-6. The Nuggets are 8-2, but that's a whole other story. It would be one thing if the Knicks were beating middle-of-the-road teams and losing to elite squads, essentially playing to their potential and role this season. But that's not what's occurring. The Knicks have wins over playoff teams in New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, and a huge win over Miami. They have losses to Dallas and Orlando, understandable, since those teams are better overall than the Knicks. But they also have two mortifying losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and one to the currently bottoming-out Pacers, who they face in a back-to-back rematch Tuesday night. (Update: The Knicks fell to the Pacers again, on a Danny Granger dagger to lose the back-to-back set.) In short, the Knicks are all over the place. 

The Knicks traded in a lot of assets that had been playing well together to get Carmelo, banking on the long-term and short-term payoff to outweigh the cost of sending four starters to Denver in return for one starter and a superstar. What's interesting is how the team has shifted since the trade. The Knicks had been averaging a 107.7 offensive efficiency and a 107.2 defensive efficiency before the trade. Offensively, they've improved as you would think they would, jumping to a 110.7 offensive efficiency. Defensively, however, they've also taken a hit, jumping to 108.7. Sounds about right. But the bigger issue is not the overall results, which are favorable, still. This team was never going to be a defensive ironmonger under D'Antoni. His system is geared to send potential rebounders springing for the break. That, plus the kind of light-footed bigs needed to make the system function results in a high number of offensive rebounds allowed, which provide more opportunities to score, and with most of the personnel geared for offense, that means they're often not defensively brilliant and the result is the team giving up a ton of points. But the team is still outscoring the other side on average. So what's the issue?

The issue is that they manage to pour it on against teams like the Heat who are defensively brilliant while holding the Triad to an 88.7 offensive efficiency. That's stunningly good. Then three games later they give up a 126 defensive efficiency to the Cavaliers, who couldn't hit water if LeBron James walked back in the door and personally towed them to water. They drop 107 points (118 offensive efficiency) on the Hornets, then turn around and produce just 93 (98.9 efficiency) against the Pacers. The Knicks are going up and down and there's no rhyme or reason to it. You can attribute part of the random nature of the results to Chauncey Billups' absence, but not enough. The Knicks are simply all over the place. Furthermore, the results aren't really tied to Melo's performance, either. 

Anthony scored just 14 on 6-18 shooting against the Hawks and they won easily. He pours in 29 on 10-16 shooting against the Cavaliers and they lose. There is one interesting corollary. In the 12 games Melo has been with the Knicks, they have never won when Anthony has posted a negative +/- mark, and never lost with a positive +/-. It seems obvious, but it does show that Anthony is in some way relevant to the Knicks' nightly performance. 

So how does D'Antoni solve this rollercoaster puzzle? In short, he can't. James Dolan (and Isiah Thomas) cut the roster he put together with Donnie Walsh off at the knees in order to screw on the robotic Melo cyborg suit he's got now. Chemistry doesn't just come together, it takes time. And consistency is an even further extension of that. D'Antoni's not going to all of a sudden be able to fix the problems the Knicks are having because the problems aren't obvious. They're complicated and intertwined in effort, hot and cold shooting nights, opponent matchups, and the ever elusive idea of chemistry and how players play and live together. That takes time, and work, in a situation where the Knicks have no time to work on such issues. Either these things will fix themselves naturally over the final month of the season, or you're just going to have to flip a coin as to which side of the Knicks we see in the first round. 

(Efficiency stats courtesy of HoopData .)
Posted on: March 14, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Felton says Denver's better than NY; are they?

Posted by Royce Young



It's too early to say that the Nuggets won the Carmelo Anthony trade, right? No way that the team that gave up Melo actually ended up with the better squad, right? It's not possible that the Nuggets are actually better than the Knicks, right?

Right?

Raymond Felton, who was part of gaggle of players sent to Denver for Melo and Chauncey Billups, says exactly that.

"We're a better team (than New York), I feel like. That's it," Felton told HoopsHype.

Marinate on that comment for minute because I know your initial reaction is to say no way. No way the Knicks, with Melo, Amar'e Stoudemire and Billups, are worse than the Nuggets who are built around Danilo Gallinari, Felton, Ty Lawson and Nene.

But so far, it's tough to argue with. The Nuggets are 7-2 post-trade and have gone from a prime candidate to slip out of the West to actually climbing to the No. 5 seed which they appear to have a strong hold of. Denver has had the good fortune of an easier schedule than the Knicks and with games against the Hornets, Hawks, Magic and Heat, the Nuggets might come back to earth a bit.

The Knicks have looked terrific at times but also have sputtered in trying to work in their new superstar. Since acquiring Melo and Billups, New York has gone 6-5, but that was against decent competition with some wins against good teams (Miami, New Orleans, Utah, Atlanta and Memphis). If the Knicks just hadn't dropped the ball twice against the Cavs, things wouldn't look near as rough. Plus, Billups has missed a few of the last games.

It's obviously premature to make a call on this because in the long run, the Knicks probably will come out better. But with the way things have panned out, it makes Masai Ujiri look that much better for the way he strung out this thing to get the best possible deal for Denver.

I do wonder what would happen between the Knicks and Nuggets in a seven-game series. Right now, I think Denver would have the edge because it seems like they've bought in more to the new system. The Nuggets are playing much better defense now than they were earlier in the year and have a unit that seems very cohesive and together.

Melo is now New York's defensive problem. George Karl said in a radio interview with 104.3 The Fan in Denver recently that the team made big strides defensively since the trade, even saying the Nuggets were "cheating the game" on the defensive end with Melo.

“I don’t think there’s any question that our personality of trying to get ‘Melo to be a little bit more involved with how we wanted to play versus his talent, which is scoring points," Karl said. "There’s a value to that and I have a lot of respect for what ‘Melo can do for a team. I don’t think you’re ever going to be a bad team with ‘Melo’s personality, but you’ve gotta work around his personality a little bit. I think sometimes the team is more important than the individual. You need individual talents, you need individual skills, you need the ability to score, but we were just cheating the game so much on the defensive end of the court, cheating the game in some offensive situations that I didn’t think we were getting enough team into the game as much as we were just getting scoring into the game.”

Are the Nuggets better than the Knicks? Right now, I think so. They've figured out each other while the top-heavy stockpiled talent in New York hasn't quite yet. But it's definitely premature to declare a winner here. I do think we can definitively say though that Denver came out a little better than everyone originally thought though.

Via Sports Radio Interviews

Posted on: March 13, 2011 11:26 pm
 

Knicks consider extension for Chauncey Billups?

The New York Knicks are reportedly considering a contract extension for point guard Chauncey Billups. Posted by Ben Golliver. chauncey-billups-knicks

The future course has been set for the New York Knicks: Forwards Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are on the books for big-dollar extensions that run through the 2014-2015 NBA season. Given the gigantic extensions paid to those players, the Knicks will need to be creative and intelligent in how they manage their remaning cap space, especially if the league's rules change meaningfully with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

The good news is that New York has very few long-term salary commitments on its books, and no other big-dollar players except for one: point guard Chauncey Billups. Billups came to New York as part of the blockbuster trade that landed Anthony, and accepting the $14.2 millions that remain on his deal for next season were one of the taxes the Knicks had to pay to land Anthony.

While Billups' contract for next season is not fully guaranteed, and there had been some light chatter recently that the Knicks might consider buying him out, Newsday reports (via HoopsHype) that the Knicks could be considering a contract extension for Billups as well. 
As everyone knows, the Knicks have a decision to make about their point guard position at the end of this season. By contractual rule, the team can save $10.5 million of the $14.2 million Chauncey Billups is scheduled to make in 2011-12 if they opt to waive the veteran point guard within five days of their last game. But a person with knowledge of the team'€™s thinking said the Knicks aren'€™t looking at that as an option and instead are considering committing to the 34-year-old Billups beyond 2012. The thinking is that Billups could be exactly what they need as a leader to direct the offense with star players Carmelo Anthony and Amar'€™e Stoudemire. And if they can sign him to a reasonable contract extension, it would allow the team to have a decent amount of money left over to make upgrades in other areas of the roster via free agency.
At 34 years old, Billups remains a productive player, putting up 17.0 points and 5.4 assists per game this season. His efficiency rating is quite high, currently ranking him No. 35 in the league. He's an NBA champion, a pro's pro, and the NBA player who knows Anthony better than everyone else. 

Taken together, that makes for a solid building piece entering next season. He's valuable on the court and his expiring contract makes him potentially valuable as a trade asset. The Knicks could easily find themselves as buyer's at next year's trade deadline -- just as they were this season -- looking to pick off assets from teams that are trying to cut payroll. Billups' contract would potentially allow them to take back a solid piece (or two) and is particularly important because the Knicks have already traded away so many of their future draft picks.

That's why an extension here really doesn't make a ton of sense. Billups has plenty of miles on him already, he'll be 35 when his current deal expires and he's significantly older than both Stoudemire and Anthony. When those two are both fully cresting, Billups will be sliding. That's just a fact of life in the NBA. 

If things go as planned next year, the Knicks are a premier team in the East, selling out the Garden, playing on national television constantly and attracting veterans who want to win. Billups will have every reason to give the Knicks a hometown discount to stay for the fun ride. If things don't go as planned, Billups as a massive expiring contract is significantly better from a flexibility standpoint than Billups as a multi-year veteran point guard slipping in production by the day. 

Either way, there's just no reason to rush to get Billups signed to an extension. 
Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 2:07 pm
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Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Amar'e Stoudemire's 16th technical rescinded

New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire has avoided suspension after the NBA rescinded his 16th technical foul. Posted by Royce Young and Benamare-stoudemire Golliver.

It was a pretty terrible technical foul to start with, so there's no surprise that the NBA has rescinded Amar'e Stoudemire's 16th technical foul, meaning he won't be suspended for a game.

It happened early in the second quarter Thursday against the Knicks where Stoudemire sort of, kind of pushed Brendan Haywood. At least that's what Bennett Salvatore thought he saw and therefore whistled both Haywood and Stoudemire for technical fouls.

Most figured the foul would be taken back once the league reviewed and most was right. Stoudemire has actually had three technical fouls rescinded this season.

Stoudemire still sits with 15 though, meaning his next one will result in a one-game suspension. Chances are he picks it up eventually, but for now, he's safe.

There's no good way to manage technical fouls -- other than being chill and not getting called for them in the first place -- but there's a fair argument that the league's decision to rescind the technical might not have been in Stoudemire's best interest. The Knicks play a home-and-home against the Indiana Pacers -- the East's No. 8 seed -- on Sunday and Tuesday. 

The Pacers just got clocked by the Minnesota Timberwolves and are reportedly fighting amongst themselves in practice. If there's a time and place to miss a game, this would seem to be it. Getting the suspension out of the way on Sunday would have taken some of the pressure off and would likely have ensured Stoudemire's availability for games against the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic (twice) later in March.

What's more, despite a favorable early April schedule, the Knicks close their season with games against the Chicago Bulls and the Celtics. Should Stoudemire be unavailable for one of those games due to technicals, you can imagine the outcry given that those games will almost certainly have playoff seeding implications.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Stoudemire will hit 16 technicals, serve his suspension, and keep on racking up T's. From that vantage point, the lower his overall number, the better.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com