Category Archives: New York Knicks

LeBron James Reacts to Carmelo Anthony’s Standing Ovation at MSG

Carmelo Anthony was in attendance Sunday night at Madison Square Garden for the Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks game. While he was there to watch close friend Dwyane Wade in one of his final two games in the arena, the Knicks made sure to give Anthony some love as well.
Not only was there a video played of Carmelo’s 62-point performance, but he was shown on the jumbotron after the memorable moment in history. As you can see in the video posted by ESPN’s Ian Begley, the former Knicks star received a huge ovation from the fanbase.

Here’s the reception Carmelo Anthony received at Madison Square Garden when he was shown on the Jumbotron during Knicks-Heat: pic.twitter.com/v0LUDiKeaW
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 28, 2019

Later in the evening, current Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James had a message about both the video and Anthony, tweeting that it was well-deserved for his friend.

Well deserved!!! 👏🏾🙏🏾‼️‼️‼️‼️@carmeloanthony https://t.co/awReCCl6ZF
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 28, 2019

Anthony was recently traded from the Houston Rockets to the Chicago Bulls. He played just 10 games for the Rockets prior to the team opting to go in another direction. It’s expected that he will either be traded or waived before the upcoming deadline.

Carmelo Anthony’s Run With Knicks
Anthony, who’s 34 years old, was traded to the Knicks during the 2010-11 season from the Denver Nuggets. He spent seven seasons with the team, playing in 412 games and averaging 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Over the impressive stretch, Anthony shot 44.3 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc.
The Knicks made the NBA playoffs in each of Anthony’s first three seasons, with the best year coming in 2012-13. New York went 54-28 that season before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That stretch also marked arguably the best of Anthony’s tenure with the team, as he averaged 28.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Latest on Carmelo Anthony-Lakers Rumors
While the Bulls are expected to part ways with Anthony soon, it’s led to plenty of speculation that he could wind up with James on the Lakers. Although there have been various reports and rumors pointing to both sides of that, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski sounded off on it shortly after Anthony’s trade to Chicago.
As he reported, the Lakers have interest in Anthony but don’t want to waive a guaranteed contract.

Sources: The Lakers maintain interest in Anthony, but do not want to waive a guaranteed player to create a roster spot for him, league sources tell ESPN. If a roster spot eventually opens with LA, yes, the Lakers are a possible destination for Anthony.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

This isn’t all that surprising, as the Lakers remain focused on landing a second superstar to pair with James. The focus has primarily been on Anthony Davis, and the bulk of the team’s current guaranteed contracts have at least some amount of trade value and upside, making them tough to part with.
On the opposite side of the argument, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports stated on the Nate Duncan podcast that the interest in Anthony may be more from James than the front office (per Clutch Points).
“Well, LeBron James is over there,” Haynes said on the Nate Duncan podcast. “And he’s made it quite clear that he would like to play with Carmelo Anthony. So if we’re going off of the past, LeBron typically has a strong voice and teams usually operate in a manner that’s going to appease him. So I will say that he definitely has interest.
“I don’t know necessarily that the Lakers brass is all that interested in bringing Carmelo Anthony on board.”
It’s an interesting situation and one that will be worth monitoring over the coming weeks. The Lakers could use depth at this point, specifically due to the injuries which have impacted the roster. Beyond that, if the team did swing a deal at the trade deadline, it could potentially open a roster spot for Anthony.
READ NEXT: 3 Anthony Davis Trades Involving Lakers’ Brandon Ingram


Blake Griffin Trade Talk: Lakers, Knicks Headline Top Packages

As the NBA trade deadline approaches, the chatter around potential deals is only going to continue heating up. While a few big names have already been linked as trade candidates, there have been a handful of additional players mentioned recently. One specifically that jumps out is Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, although his scenario is a bit different than the others.
As Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson reported on Twitter, he believes Griffin has privately stated he wants to be moved. Robinson proceeds to cite the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat as possible options.

If Blake Griffin is moved, look for New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets & Miami Heat as his preferred destinations. https://t.co/PSX9TEJZqP
— Brandon Robinson (@ScoopB) January 27, 2019

Although it’s unknown what stage this whole situation is at and whether the Pistons would actually move Griffin, who was acquired last season, it’s an interesting topic. Even without knowing an overwhelming amount on this trade chatter, there are still a few teams who can put together strong deals for the Pistons star.
Let’s check out a few potential trades that could make sense for both sides if Detroit does decide to put Griffin on the table as a candidate to be moved. We’ll start off with the Los Angeles Lakers and a major hypothetical on their approach moving forward.
*Note: All trades created with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine and are only for enjoyment purposes.

Lakers Acquire Second Star in Blake Griffin
ESPN NBA Trade Machine
Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into this trade, specifically the fact that it would mean the Lakers trading two potential pieces of a deal for Anthony Davis. This deal stems from The Athletic’s Bill Oram reporting that Magic Johnson and company would consider a “blockbuster that lands the Lakers a second superstar.”
“The second is obviously the priority, even if it means parting with some combination of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. Ideally, the Lakers would be able to land a second star in free agency and keep the core intact. However, with Anthony Davis unlikely to become available by the deadline, that particular dilemma may be a moot point this season.”
It’s an interesting scenario, and to be clear, I have no idea if Los Angeles would decide to avoid the risk of losing out on Davis during the offseason by acquiring Griffin instead. While the current Pistons star isn’t quite the caliber of player Davis is, he’s currently playing the best basketball of his career and would help right the ship immediately.
Personally, I think the Lakers are more likely to wait for Davis and make the push during the upcoming offseason, even with the risk. But if not, this deal for Griffin also provides outside shooting with Reggie Bullock.

Knicks Begin Building for the Future
ESPN NBA Trade Machine
*Knicks also second 2020 first-round pick and 2022 second-round pick to Pistons
The New York Knicks are expected to be big players in free agency, and if they plan to make a run at someone like Kevin Durant, it could be helpful to have Griffin in town. There have been rumblings the Knicks want to move Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, so it’s tough to envision a better deal that accomplishes that than this one.
Draft picks would almost certainly have to be included here, and a 2020 protected first-rounder along with a second-round pick in the likely “double draft” in 2022 could get it done. The big aspects of this deal on the Pistons side are how the team feels about Hardaway and whether they believe Ntilikina has the upside to become their point guard of the future.

Luka Doncic Gets New Star Teammate With Mavericks
ESPN NBA Trade Machine
*Mavericks send protected first-round pick to Pistons
The Dallas Mavericks would be quite a fit for Griffin, and I’m not going to put it past Mark Cuban to figure out how to make this deal happen. What’s interesting is that it would reunite Griffin and former Los Angeles Clippers teammate DeAndre Jordan. That may or may not be a good thing, but regardless, Jordan is only under contract through this season.
In this scenario, Dallas moves Wesley Matthews’ contract and finds a perfect home for Dennis Smith Jr., who needs a fresh start. Smith could be the best part of this deal for the Pistons, although Harrison Barnes would be a solid addition as well. As Detroit searches for their potential point guard of the future, this is a low-risk, inexpensive opportunity to see what the former first-round pick in Smith can provide.
READ NEXT: Anthony Davis Trade Talk: Nets May Push Lakers, Celtics for Star?


Rockets Trade Talk: Enes Kanter, Robin Lopez Deals to Bolster Depth

The Houston Rockets are slowly but surely working towards getting healthy once again. With Eric Gordon recently returning from injury and Chris Paul set to return Sunday, it essentially covers the backcourt depth. But the Rockets could use an extra body in the frontcourt, even with the signing/emergence of Kenneth Faried.
The injury to center Clint Capela will leave him out through the All-Star break more than likely, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed in mid-January that he had suffered a thumb injury. Unfortunately, it proved to be worse than originally thought, as Capela’s MRI showed ligament damage.
At this point, the addition of Faried could be enough to hold the Rockets over until Capela’s return, but adding another legitimate center to the mix makes sense. The key is that Houston almost certainly won’t want to give much up in a potential trade. Fortunately, two options in New York Knicks center Enes Kanter and Chicago Bulls big man Robin Lopez could come at a low cost to the team.
Let’s look at two potential deals, one for both players, which wouldn’t leave the Rockets shorthanded and will allow them to bolster their frontcourt prior to the homestretch of the year.
*All trades courtesy of ESPN NBA Trade Machine.

Robin Lopez Finally Gets Moved
ESPN NBA Trade Machine
*Note: Houston adds a second-round draft pick.
The Chicago Bulls seem to have little interest in buying out Lopez, although that may happen if the deadline gets closer and no deal happens. But instead of risking watching Lopez go elsewhere, the Rockets could offer up Brandon Knight for contract reasons and a second-round pick to make the deal happen.
The worst-case scenario for Houston is if they wait out the Bulls release of the big man and then he chooses to head to another team. With that said, the options are all on the table for the Bulls, but a deal with the Rockets makes sense for Lopez as an opportunity to see a solid workload and contend for a title.

Enes Kanter Traded to Rockets

*Note: Deal includes a second-round pick from Houston.
Things between the New York Knicks and Enes Kanter have taken an ugly turn. The big man can’t seem to find his way onto the floor at this point, even with starter Luke Kornet sidelined due to injury. And after a recent game, Kanter essentially asked for a trade out of town, as The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov revealed.
“What they’re doing to me is pretty messed up. I deserve better.”

“You either play me or let me play.” Kanter said, according to Vorkunov.
I can’t envision a world where the Knicks opt not to deal Kanter before the deadline. The problem is since head coach David Fizdale won’t play him and it’s known the team wants to trade him, Kanter’s value isn’t all that high. Plus, he’s on an expiring deal, so it makes little sense for the Knicks to stick him on the bench for the rest of the year.
READ NEXT: 3 Anthony Davis Trades Involving Lakers’ Brandon Ingram


The NBA’s Benjamin Button

Somehow, Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina’s game was polarizing before he even officially joined the NBA.
An ESPN analysis of 2017 draft prospects gave him the highest probability of someday becoming an All-Star and the greatest likelihood of being a lottery bust. And to some extent, fans haven’t been any more unified in how they feel about Ntilikina’s game, which isn’t the most well-rounded yet, given the gaps in his role as a ball-handler.
But there’s an argument to be made that many are simply looking at the 20-year-old the wrong way. He may be the pro basketball version of Benjamin Button, a player whose skills age and develop in reverse, with defensive mastery coming before offensive. Once fans accept that possibility, they may be able to better enjoy the unique talent they have on their hands.
Those underwhelmed by Ntilikina would point to his rookie season, in which he averaged 5.9 points a night and hit just 38.5 percent of his shots from 2-point range, one of the worst marks for a first-year player27 over the past 15 seasons, according to Basketball-Reference.com. (It’s early, but so far, he’s on pace to do the same this season, shooting 38.7 percent on 2-pointers.)
The NBA is more positionless than ever, but Ntilikina’s tweener status on offense hasn’t helped matters. He hasn’t shown enough consistency with his jumper to be a spot-up shooter, but he also isn’t always decisive or aggressive enough to be the lone point guard on the court. (He got his first career start as the only point guard on Friday against Golden State, when his 17 points tied a career high.) When he does drive to the rim, Ntilikina dishes to teammates 41 percent of the time, the NBA’s ninth-highest rate among those who penetrate at least five times a game. In some ways, he’s like a young Ricky Rubio, with less passing skill and far more defensive potential because of his length and versatility.
While it might be challenging for the Knicks’ front office to determine which players fit best with franchise centerpiece Kristaps Porzingis (who’s still on the mend following an ACL tear last season), the club does have some data to use when it comes to Ntilikina. Not all of it is glowing, though. Porzingis shot 8 percentage points worse in 366 minutes alongside the Frenchman than when Ntilikina was on the bench, perhaps a sign that defenses didn’t respect Ntilikina as enough of a threat around the rim to free up his pick-and-pop partner. (New York scored just 102.6 points per 100 possessions with the duo on the court last season, a mark that, over the course of a full season, would have tied the Suns for the worst offense in the league.)
Understandably, these factors together raise questions about how long it will take Ntilikina to develop into a net positive on offense, if that ever truly happens. (Those questions likely explain the additions to the roster of Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay, who often share time with Ntilikina even though the Knicks took him at No. 8 in the 2017 draft.) But it’s also worth acknowledging that good defensive players — particularly young guards — don’t jump off the screen the same way that good offensive ones do for the average fan. This was somewhat true of Kawhi Leonard before he won the NBA Finals MVP in 2014. The same phenomenon seemed to come into play with Denver’s Gary Harris, who has long been solid on defense but began seeing his national profile rise after taking considerable steps on the offensive side.
Take even the slightest glance in Ntilikina’s direction, though, and his best attribute — aside from his 6-foot-5 height or 7-foot-plus wingspan — quickly becomes evident. He has exceptional foot speed and can recover almost instantly even when he gets screened or is beaten with an initial first step. Considering how integral the screen-and-roll game has become in recent years, the ability of teams to neutralize that play call with a solid defender is monumentally important. And in looking at both film and metrics, Ntilikina is not merely good at that skill — he’s great at it.

His 0.65 points surrendered per possession while guarding the pick-and-roll ball-handlers last season ranked best in the NBA among those who defended at least 200 such plays, according to Synergy Sports Technology.28 That’s a laughably low figure considering that he was the NBA’s second-youngest player.
When I spoke with Ntilikina last season, he said he was primarily focused on nailing down how to use his long arms to bother shooters without fouling too much and how to effectively shade and funnel ball-handlers toward the 7-foot-3 shot-blocking wall that is Porzingis. “We want to force teams into shots they don’t want to take,” he said. “Make them shoot over our length.”
While the duo didn’t break scoreboards on offense, it could be a dominant defensive force. With both Ntilikina and Porzingis on the court last season, the Knicks held opponents to 95.9 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would have led the league by a mile over a full season, according to NBA.com. (That’s a welcome sign for a club that has posted a bottom-10 defense a whopping 12 of the 16 seasons since defensive guru Jeff Van Gundy resigned.) Just as encouraging: New York’s 6.7 net rating with the pair on the floor — meaning the Knicks outscored opponents by 6.7 points for every 100 possessions — was the best for any Knick duo that played 100 minutes together last year.
Even without Porzingis, though, Ntilikina has shown an ability to tag and identify cutters while switching to defend several different positions. That includes the post, where he fronts bigs in hopes of denying passes to them — a rare skill for a point guard. Among guards, only Warriors guard/forward Andre Iguodala was stingier than Ntilikina while defending the post29 last season, according to Second Spectrum.


The jury is still out on Ntilikina’s offense, although so far this season, he has shown encouraging signs on that end, too. Almost half of Ntilikina’s shot attempts have been 3-pointers, up from 31 percent last year. And like many Euros who join the league, he has seen steep second-year improvement in accuracy from long range, perhaps having fully adjusted to the NBA’s 3-point distance.
Maybe the most promising development, though, is his use of countermoves to get off floaters in and around the paint. The moves — a bargain bin version of the ones Dwyane Wade has used for years to get his shots off in traffic — do just enough to freeze defenders within reach of Ntilikina.

Knick officials have expressed privately that they have faith that Ntilikina will develop into an impact player on offense because he took over games when squaring off against players his own age in Europe, using stepbacks and torching defenders off of screens.
Perhaps that awareness and dominance will kick in at some point here. But even if it takes a while, or if it never comes, Knick fans — ones who fell in love with those hard-nosed defenses from the 1990s — would be wise to appreciate the skill set that Ntilikina has already shown.
Check out our latest NBA predictions.