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Tag:Mike D'Antoni
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 11:27 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

The Knicks were routed out of the Garden by Four Horsemen that doomed them to an 0-3 deficit. 
Posted by Matt Moore




You had to expect this. A raucous home crowd thinking the first two games were close enough to support a win for the hometown boys in their own house. Over-performance from a super-thin Knicks roster in Games 1 and 2, with some top-heavy help from the stars who the Celtics would work to figure out. Sloppy play from the Celtics to wake themselves up, even after a win. And then, you know, this reality. 

The Boston Celtics are much better than the New York Knicks. 

In the Celtics' outright dismantling of the Knicks, the Celtics rode in like it was Revelations and they were brining the end of the world to Knicks fans. There were four factors that really led to this beatdown. Here then are the four horsemen of the Knickocalypse. 

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1. Pestilence: The Celtics had 20 turnovers, which is a huge amount. But almost none of them hurt them. Know how many fast break points the Knicks, a Mike D'Antoni team, had? 10, on 4-8 shooting. The Knicks had 18 turnovers, which the Celtics used to help convert 8-12 fast break opportunities into 23 points. The Celtics turnovers were on account of trying to do too much, being too confident, moving too quickly. The Knicks' turnovers were on account of sloppiness, dribbling into double teams, throwing terrible passes, freezing movement, and working right into Boston's hands. The Celtics' defense made the Knicks' offense sick to its stomach by closing off lanes and pressuring the Knicks' terrible, and I mean terrible, ball-handlers. But the Knicks also vomited on themselves time and time again with lazy, unfocused and unprepared play. 

2. Famine: James Dolan should buy himself a beer tonight. It was his bungling of the Melo trade that left the Knicks with such a wretched supporting cast and their bench starving for talent. Jared Jeffries played exceptionally well in Game 2, and still managed to lose the game on consecutive possessions. In Game 3, there was no such upside. Jeffries blew easy passes underneath. He was slow to rotate, got lost repeatedly, and failed to execute with any clear purpose. And he had a much better game than Ronny Turiaf. Not only didn't Turiaf do all of those things, but he got completely manhandled down low. The Celtics' reserves were just as bad, and as D'Antoni kept trying to send different lineups, trying to find a spark, the gap in talent was pretty obvious. 

Then there was Toney Douglas. This should have been his opportunity to shine. With Billups out another game, building off of Game 2, with a home crowd, the situation was ripe for him to make an impact. His line's not bad. 15-3-3. But Douglas also failed to recognize Amar'e Stoudemire, the giant power forward with insane leaping ability who's the star of his team, slashing towards the basket on multiple fast breaks. He repeatedly froze fast breaks instead of pushing. Which is really what you want to do when you're running a D'Antoni offense. Slow it down. The Celtics actually dislike fast break teams quite a bit. That being the case, they loved Douglas tonight, because let them keep everything in front of them, nice and settled. 

3. War: The Celtics' defense wasn't everywhere it should have been in Games 1 and 2. It was omnipresent in Game 3. Particularly at the rim. The same principles which have led the Celtics to two finals appearances in three years were in play. Carmelo Anthony was challenged on the perimeter tight by Paul Pierce and others, electing to force him into the drive. When he drove, he was met outside of the paint with multiple defenders creating a wall. Melo's runners bounced off backboard, and contrary the games in Boston, the Celtics came to hit the glass. Boston allowed only a 29 percent offensive rebound rate to the Knicks after allowing over 40 percent to be snagged by New York in both games in Beantown. The formula's simple. Pressure, attack, communicate, help, choke off the offense and get the rebound. The Celtics are defined by those principles, and they were in full effect Friday night. 

On offense, the Celtics came in and raided the Garden, especially from the perimeter. Ray Allen had a bombardment of 3-pointers, in classic form. The Knicks' defense was abysmal, don't get me wrong. But those offensive rebounds came into play. Boston had a 38 percent offensive rebounding rate on their own. That lead to second chance opportunities, which created a scrambling Knicks defense out of position, at which point Allen calmly slipped to a corner and nailed three after three. Most of it was a lack of communication and poor defensive principles by the Knicks, but Boston also calmly executed over and over again. Paul Pierce, who came in 1-10 in ISO situations in this series, was dominant. He and Allen combined for 70 points between the two of them.  Pierce had everything going -- the jumper was crazy wet. Check out their shot charts from GameTracker.





23-34 on jumpers. That's pretty much insane. It was a prolific performance from two Hall of Famers. The embers from the Nets at the Garden are still burning. 

4. Death, thy name is Rajon Rondo. 15 points, 11 rebounds, 20 assists. The first 20-assist triple-double since Magic Johnson in 1991. Those offensive rebounds that lead to those threes? Six of them for Rondo. The floater, the mid-range, and dish, after dish, after dish. The Celtics were on a whole different level than the Knicks tonight. Rondo was on a level beyond that. He was so good his teammates couldn't keep up at points. Rondo was dribbling between his legs and behind his back on the baseline after offensive rebounds. It was as brilliant of a pure-point performance as you'll see in the league. The Rajon Rondo from the beginning of the season is most definitely back. 

The Knicks could have defended better. They could have rebounded better. They could have passed, shot, played better. But with Rajon Rondo owning the game in the way he did, it's hard to see that there was much this Knicks roster could do. The one from earlier in the season, with more depth, more versatility, and more chemistry? Maybe. But this one was simply overwhelmed by the horsemen. 

The end may come on Sunday. 
Posted on: April 22, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Series Reset Knicks-Celtics: Garden games

Madison Square Garden hosts its first playoff game in over five years. Will the Big Apple boys be able to kick the demons the Celtics have sicked on them in the final minutes of Game 1 and 2? 
Posted by Matt Moore




The Narrative: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  That's the reality of where the Knicks are at. A stellar performance by Stoudemire in Game 1 crushed by a terrible performance from Melo and a vintage Ray Allen three. A superhuman response from Melo in Game 2 without Billups or Stoudemire, vanquished by Jared Jeffries bowled over on one end, intercepted on the other. The Knicks fought so well in the first two games. And they have nothing to show for it. 

The crowd at MSG will be there. But you have to wonder about the emotional response of the Knicks. Those were two tough, tough losses to take. And versus a usual six seed who would just be happy to have shown some life and been in the conversation, New York's on a different level. The market, the city, the superstars, the expectations all mean that they're supposed to finish those games when they have the chance, even with the vagabonds they currently have in key rotation positions. Trying to get a lock on how the Knicks will come out is pretty difficult. You have to believe Stoudemire will be ready, having been in so many playoff games. Melo might be in the same boat, but he might also be checked out after doing what he did in Game 2 and having the game blown up by Jeffries electing to pass. 

The Knicks' best effort will come from riding that surge of emotion. They can't out-execute the Celtics, but if Stoudemire's back, Boston also won't be able to throw nine-hundred defenders at Melo at once. The Knicks need to get out in transition, create steals, scrap like they did in the first two games and hang on. Surrendering late leads isn't just a way to lose a game. It's a way to lose a series. Just ask Indiana. 

The Hook: You know who's been terrible? Landry Fields. Which isn't really fair to say since he's a rookie and all, and he hit the rookie wall about two months ago. Essentially, since the Melo trade, he's fallen off the map. Whether it's chemistry or lineups or balance, Fields hasn't been able to make the same kind of impact he did early in the season. Which would be something we'd excuse and move over, but as thin as the Knicks are, they need every player who could be considered "good" to contribut. Fields is 2-7 in this series with a rebound, a turnover, and a block in 35 combined minutes. He was even 0-2 at the free throw line. Fields doesn't have a great offensive repertoire and isn't any sort of speed demon. But he's got to make his presence felt somewhere. Hustle plays, easy layups, steals, blocks, somewhere. He's got to put in some sort of impact. The Knicks don't have enough players for Fields to no-show. That's just the reality of where he's at. 

The Adjustment:  Stoudemire might be back, and he killed the Celtics in Game 1. The Celtics aren't known to just accept certain guys doing damage. So they'll likely be more aggressive with STAT at the elbow and low. The elbow is Stoudemire's ISO starting position. Since the Knicks are likely without Chauncey Billups again, there isn't a ball-handler to really attack with Stoudemire in the pick and roll (and isn't that a shame). So those elbow possessions will be up should Stoudemire give it a go. Expect the Celtics to possibly back off the elbow jumper to keep Stoudemire from driving, hoping those back spasms will tighten up his release to distract him. When he does drive, expect more low help, as neither Turiaf nor Jeffries have proven they can handle, collect, or produce off the dump-off pass. 

Also expect a really healthy dose of elbows to the back of Stoudemire. If he plays, he's going to physically wish he hadn't. This is what the Celtics do. 

If the Knicks are smart, they'll force the issue with the pick and roll. Yes, the Celtics are one of the best pick and roll defensive teams in the league, and yes, the Knicks are without a capable guard to run said system. But even getting Melo as ball-handler or working with veteran guard Anthony Carter could help. Stoudemire is so good in that set, to not use him is almost criminal. 

The X-Factor: Injury, obviously. Shaq's almost definitely out. Amar'e is a gametime decision. Billups is likely out. The Celtics have a handful of scrapes and bruises, including Jermaine O'Neal's wrist, which turned him from a major influencer in Game 1 to a near-liability in Game 2. Despite this being a Mike D'Antoni team, this has been a rough and tumble series, with some good defense played on both sides. There's going to be more hammering, more contact, more bad blood. The Celtics know that Game 3 and 4 are chances for the knockout punch. They also know that losing both means less rest before facing the Heat in the semis. The Knicks know the Garden is their last stand and another suckerpunch loss will pretty much doom them and the players will start to check out mentally. With the injuries in play, this is going to come down to a battle of wills. 

And in that situation, you never, ever want to bet against the Celtics. 

The Sticking Point: The Knicks got a superb performance from Stoudemire in Game 1. They got an other-worldly response from Melo, short-handed, in Game 2. Their best hope in this series was for their star players to step up and take over the game. That happend. They still lost. The Celtics haven't shut down the Knicks' best players, but they've done enough, particularly in the last five minutes. Swagger's a cliche, but it's also got some truth to it. The Celtics know they can win, no matter what the Knicks do.

Can the Knicks find a different way to win, or are they just pretty much who they are? The Garden's waiting to find out. 
Posted on: April 18, 2011 12:00 pm
 

NBA Playoffs: Knicks-Celtics Game 1 Shootaround

Reactions from around the web to the Celtics' Game 1 win over the Knicks...

Posted by Matt Moore



Last night started off like the regular season ended but ended like it started.  It is almost as if the bad habits developed over the last several weeks carried over.  But sure enough, when they needed it most, the switch came on and the team rallied and won.

Credit Jermaine ONeal for creating transition offense with his defense.  Credit Ray Allen for being patient enough to let the game come to him and knowing just what to do when it did.  Credit Doc Rivers for drawing up exactly the right out-of-bounds plays in the final moments.  And credit the whole team for not giving up on game 1 and showing just what kind of team they can be.

Now they just have to leave that switch locked into the on position for the rest of the playoffs and well do just fine.
via The Switch Flickered - CelticsBlog.

If this were a 4-5 matchup, it would be one thing. Or a second-round matchup. But I'm a little surprised that so many Celtics fans are so "well, there they go again, flipping the switch" in this one. I loathe the "one team lost it more than the other team won it" angle in most circumstances. Spurs fans are saying a lot of that Monday morning without taking notice of the fact that Marc Gasol did earn all 24 of his points. But here? The Knicks didn't have a shot to win this thing. They had about nineteen. Their failure to execute wasn't based off of personnel, it was based off of decision making and shooting. Which, yes, you can credit the Celtics' defense for, as always. It just seems like in a series where the Celtics should overwhelm their opponent to such a considerable degree, there would be more uneasiness regarding "the switch." But then again, it was Game 1. The Celtics were in a tight series with Miami in the beginning and then a series of dramatic events last year lit a fire under them. Perhaps the same thing is happening here.   
It has to make you wonder why they can't figure out a way to get him the ball more. He's only shooting career highs in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage this season. Ho-hum.

Allen could hang his head and pout about the lack of shot attempts, but instead he just continues to play his game, take what's given, and look for the best option.

"I wasn't worried about it (not getting shots early)," Allen said. "Offensively we got so many great weapons out there on the floor. Here in the playoffs I knew what my matchup was and defensively I knew what I had to do to help keep Carmelo (Anthony) from having big nights and (Amar'e) Stoudemire. Offensively when we got stops early I got a couple of layups, a couple of shots at the hoop. For the most part I wasn't worried about shooting the ball. Once we settled in and played the type of basketball that we are capable of playing, I knew I'd find our comfort zones.
via Ray Comes Through Just in the Knick of Time - CelticsBlog.

Having someone like Allen to rely on is such a huge advantage. He's that player where, when he shot the game winner against the Knicks, every Knicks fans is screaming "how can you let him get open?" But in reality, it's his abily to get open, and to knock down those shots when he should be triple-covered that makes him so good. Well, that and a good Kevin Garnett illegal screen/trip.  The Knicks answered with their player who has that ability to kill you with last second shots, he just didn't work to create a good opportunity for himself. 
And then there's Melo. When he received the ball with a few seconds left and a chance to tie or win, I was all like "wow, it would be VERY Melo to sink the big shot after sucking the whole second half", but he didn't. It ended up being a pair of quarters in which Anthony hit just one field goal (a put-back) and scored just three points. He was cookin' soup from outside in the first half, but it didn't feel sustainable and wasn't. Anthony attacked the basket only in spurts, and seemed hesitant to do so as the game progressed, perhaps because of several plays in which he was stripped and didn't get the calls he felt he deserved. 5-18 on the night, 2-8 from downtown, and just 15 points. He defended Paul Pierce decently, but got a bit lost when screens and switching took place. Nothing unusual there. I'm verrrrrry intrigued to see how he responds to this in game two.
via Game One: Celtics 87, Knicks 85: "Everything hurts." - Posting and Toasting.

Knicks fans can't be frustrated with Melo, this is who he is. Well, kind of. He's usually a very good clutch shooter, he was just off that game down the stretch. But they shouldn't be (and Posting and Toasting wasn't) surprised with him taking jumpers and not going to the rim. That's his game. Even jump shots are okay if you're working to get open shots. Use a pick. Work off-ball. Create some space. But no, instead, Melo literally worked to create the most difficult shot he could, and then was disappointed when it didn't work. Amar'e Stoudemire opted for some tough shots down the stretch, but they were tough because of the probability he was going to get fouled. And instead, he didn't get a chance to save the team he was the first to join last summer. That's a huge tactical mistake on the part of the Knicks, Mike D'Antoni, and Melo. 
"I think we were doing everything in our power to get Amar'e the ball," Anthony said. "He had it going. He was the horse we were riding tonight. Tonight was his night. We tried to go to him, we were going to him, and he was producing. Toward the end, I think the Celtics made some adjustments."

Rivers said he instructed Garnett to start fronting the high post after Stoudemire had unleashed those two dizzying drives, and it worked. He picked his poison -- inviting Anthony to beat him -- and he won that test of wills and wits in Game 1.

"We feel comfortable with Carmelo shooting the ball there at the end," Stoudemire said. "He's been doing that his whole career."
via Melo, Knicks miss opportunity in tough loss to Celtics - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

 Yes, Melo. The Celtics made some adjustments. By willing you into going hero mode.

Hot-hand, no hot-hand, you should go with the guy who "has it" that night versus the guy who has been a popsicle for two quarters. Amar'e was decisive, strong, composed and downright physically terrifying. And instead the Knicks wound up with a jumper. Yeesh. 
This New York team may not have Boston’s playoff experience or consistent defensive intensity but they made great improvements over their regular season selves last night. They defended with gusto, particularly on the interior where they turned away multiple Boston layups (the Celtics, like the Knicks, shot only 50% at the rim, pedestrian figures compared to the regular season league average of 64.1%). As well, the Knicks proved they could hang with Boston during a slow paced game. And they have at least one player the Celtics had no answer for. So, we’ve got a series here.
via Boston Celtics blog — Celtics news, analysis, commentary from CelticsHub.com.

The pace thing is certainly interesting. This team is so poorly fit for D'Antoni's style after the trade. Slow, shooter point guard, gunning ISO wing, no real versatility at postion, and no real element of speed. Does that help in the playoffs? It did for most of the game. The ground out a game against the Celtics. They weren't going to be able to do that against the Celtics before the trade. Didn't have the personnel. Which is doubly weird considering Carmelo Anthony's been on high-pace teams for much of his career. 

The Celtics actually had more success when they got out in transition. This was a weird game. 
O’Neal did his best work during the Celtics’ third-quarter surge, as they worked their way back from a 12-point deficit. He scored 6 points, blocked Anthony twice and kept alive numerous possessions.

“We won the game because of Jermaine O’Neal,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s it. Forget his offense. His defense, his presence, his shot-blocking, his rebounding, his toughness.”
via Knicks Leave Opening, and Celtics Slip Past - NYTimes.com.

Everyone assumed the Celtics would be sunk without Shaquille O'Neal. J.O. gave the kind of performance you have to have from role players in the playoffs. If the Knicks' lack of talent at center gives J.O. life, the rest of the East will have a bone to pick after a mediocre regular season from him. 

Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:16 pm
 

Knicks interested in UK coach John Calipari?

Are the New York Knicks interested in University of Kentucky coach John Calipari? Posted by Ben Golliver. john-calipari

Another day, another rumor surrounding the New York Knicks front office. All the hot air stems from the fact that Knicks owner James Dolan, to this point, has not picked up the contract option for team president Donnie Walsh, leading to speculation that this will be Walsh's final season in the big apple.

Friday's rumor, courtesy of the New York Post, has Dolan considering college basketball's top recruiter and former New Jersey Nets coach John Calipari.
According to a team executive, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two regarding goings-on behind the screens, believes Dolan may have eyes for John Calipari….to run the front office and coach. Do I have confirmation on this? No. I unsuccessfully reached out to Calipari and left a message why I was calling. Does it make sense? Yes, especially in view of Dolan’s disinclination to do right by Walsh.
We’re talking about a marquee (there’s that word again) college coach fresh from another Final Four, who owns pro experience (some of it good with the Nets), is an outstanding recruiter (though NBA’s salary cap may limit impact) and relates remarkably well with young black players.
Shortly after that rumor hit, SI.com acknowledged that it was a possibility but also raised some questions. 
There are also reasons to question whether the Knicks would consummate the relationship. Calipari's credentials as a bench coach will be questioned: Even though he has experience as a head coach for the Nets, he has failed to win an NCAA championship with Memphis or Kentucky. Coaching in the NBA is far more difficult than in college, and anyone who wants to shoot down the speculation can make the case that Calipari would represent a bench downgrade from Mike D'Antoni.
Will the next collective bargaining agreement maintain free-agency in its current form? How important will recruiting be in future? This story is going to generate a lot of discussion, but it's hard to imagine the Knicks taking such a risk unless they're absolutely convinced Calipari's presence will deliver a third star to New York.
Dolan is way out there as an NBA owner, but this is too much for him. If you're going to hire a big name recruiter, why bother saddling him with coaching responsibilties? If you already have a relatively proven coach in D'Antoni, why replace him for someone that bombed out of the NBA and has proven to be much more effective in college? 

It's clear Calipari wields significant influence in basketball circles. His former players -- even guys like Blazers center Marcus Camby who played for him ages ago -- always sing his praises. But he loves the limelight and he's got all the limelight he can handle in Kentucky, where he's revered as a local idol and just made this year's Final Four. 

Prying him away could eventually happen but not when he's at the top of his game.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Melo says tonight's game 'almost a must-win'

Posted by Royce Young

A big peeve of mine is claiming a regular season game that won't force you out of the postseason a "must-win." People were saying that when the Heat were set to play the Lakers after losing five straight. (I think Chris Bosh or LeBron even said that.)

It's kind of a ridiculous thing to say when you're not going to be eliminated after the game. But for the Knicks, times are desperate. They've lost six straight and nine of their last 10. They've gone from the six-seed to the seven and three games under .500. They're a complete mess on both ends of the floor and playing without any sense of confidence or reason.

So when Carmelo Anthony says tonight's game versus Orlando is "almost a must-win" for them, it's a little bit tougher to disagree. Via the AP:

"We understand how important this game is for us," Anthony said at the Knicks' training center. "It's almost a must win for us. That mentality, that's something that I want to approach it, as a must-win game. We've been talking about that throughout the team."

Since acquiring Anthony, the Knicks have gone 7-12, which most definitely not what they had envisioned when they added the All-Star. But with him, there's been a major offset in on-court chemistry. Mike D'Antoni's team isn't playing near as fast, near as loose and they're regressing defensively. Basically, they're sort of falling apart.

D'Antoni didn't echo Anthony's must-win belief, but he put it this way: "We've had a few of those lately, and we haven't seemed to get one, so every game we go out is a must win. It's a must play well."

I like that better. A must play well. Because let's face it. Against the Magic, the Knicks just don't match up well. Drawing a line in the sand to say this is a must-win when maybe you don't have a great shot isn't going to be good for confidence after the final result is unfavorable. Melo is setting himself up for more disappointment.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 9:07 am
 

Donnie Walsh takes blame for struggling Knicks

New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh says he is to blame for the team's recent struggles. Posted by Ben Golliver. donnie-walsh

The New York Knicks are an absolute disaster, 1-9 in their last 10 games and losers of six straight, and the finger-pointing is reaching a crescendo. Carmelo Anthony isn't a team player! It's Mike D'Antoni's systems! Amar'e Stoudemire needs to step up! And on and on and on.

Thankfully, one person in this mess is willing to accept responsibility: Knicks president Donnie Walsh.

Walsh tells the New York Post that the team's recent struggles since a trade deadline move that brought Anthony to the Big Apple from the Denver Nuggets are his "responsibility" and that D'Antoni shouldn't be blamed for failing to put the pieces together in the short term. 
Walsh said the collapse is not on coach Mike D'Antoni.
"I think it's very little [on him]," Walsh said. "It's very difficult to put these pieces back together in a short time. That's why it's more my responsibility. That's why I rarely trade in the middle of the season, because it's a big adjustment. But I made it because it's better for the franchise long term.
"Though it's a future trade, I realized it would be a major disruption, and it's hard to get back to where it was. I liked the team we had before. But I didn't think we were going to win the championship."
Given the circumstances, this is absolutely the right move for Walsh, as New York's problems clearly run deeper than simple rotation fixes or locker room chemistry. A recallibration of expectations from management was necessary and some short-term cover for D'Antoni doesn't hurt anything. 

Eventually, though, the Knicks will come to the point where buying time is no longer a sufficient company line. Think about it: if expectations are this high now, what will they look like come training camp?

Things are ugly in New York now, but it's important to remember that if next season begins like this one has ended, things could will be a lot worse.
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 2:40 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 2:43 pm
 

The Knicks looking at Billups long-term. Why?

Knicks looking to re-sign Billups long-term, but is that the right move? 
Posted by Matt Moore

Mike D'Antoni's system requires a great point guard. That isn't just an implication from Steve Nash's prolific success in Phoenix. A team that runs that much and relies on spacing needs an elite distributor.  Forwards, bigs, they're all elements but the engine that really makes the Knicks go will be a great point guard to quarterback the offensive weapons. 

So it's surprising to learn Tuesday that according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks are considering bringing Chauncey Billups back past next season. 
Head coach Mike D'Antoni and team president Donnie Walsh are in favor of holding onto Billups beyond next season. Of course, there are no guarantees that D'Antoni and Walsh will be around beyond next season but most coaches would advocate keeping a point guard whose value extends beyond the court.

D'Antoni has publicly endorsed Billups on several occasions and believes that the one-time NBA Finals MVP can still play at a high level even though he will be 35 years old by the start of the 2011-12 season. D'Antoni has compared Billups favorably to Steve Nash, who at 37 is still going strong. The same is true of Jason Kidd, who turns 38 on March 23.

"Oh yeah, people get hung up on age," D'Antoni said. "(The talk) is he's done. He's got five more years. He was an MVP of the Finals. He's been at All-Star level. He is at an All-Star level. I just think he has at least four, five good years left."

via It makes sense for the Knicks to keep Chauncey Billups around a few more years .

Billups also told ESPN that he's interested in returning to New York. 
Chauncey Billups said late Monday night that he’s hoping to remain with the New York Knicks next season and “going forward.” Billups’ contract contains a team option for 2011-2012 for $14.2 million. The Knicks can pick up the option or buy Billups out for $3.7 million. “I haven’t ruled anything out. Obviously, I’m hoping to be a New York Knick next year and going forward after that. But I can only control so much,” Billups said.
via Billups: I hope to be a Knick in 2012 - Knicks Blog - ESPN New York .

It's interesting that Billups is so receptive to staying in New York after saying repeatedly that he wanted to retire in his hometown of Denver. But he may just be saying the right things now that he's a Knick and understanding how quickly situations can change. More perplexing is a long-term commitment to Billups, unless it's at a discounted rate. Billups, as D'Antoni said, is a former Finals MVP and former All-Star. He is a great point guard. But he's not a great point guard for D'Antoni's system. 

D'Antoni needs a distributor, someone who will probe the defense, get out in transition, open up lanes, and work for the hard pass to create open shots. Even a younger guard like Darren Collison is a better fit going forward. Billups is only going to slow down and struggle more, physically, as he gets older. Extending him will be a costly process, because he can still play at a high level. And when his price goes up, the odds of the Knicks making a move for a player like Chris Paul or Deron Williams go down. And when that happens, the Knicks settle in for the long-term with an incomplete roster shackled by an aging point guard. 

If, however, they can get Billups with a reasonable contract, to stay with the Knicks and mentor the team as a veteran, possibly working as combo-guard in the two-spot, they could really have something. It's only committing to Billups as the starter, as a member of a theoretical "Big 3" that is fraught with risks.
 
 
 
 
 
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