BREAKING NEWS: The Last Spots on the Roster go to Murry, Aldrich and…Chris Smith

So it’s Friday, traditionally considered a “slow news day.” If you’re running, for example, the government of the United States of America and you have an item of interest that you want to (or rather, have to) release, but you want to diminish the amount of attention it receives from the esteemed members of the Fourth Estate, you dump it on the world on a lazy Friday (preferably on the eve of a holiday) afternoon.

Because, you see, like the rest of us, the fine gentlemen and ladies who consider themselves journalists are also giddily eager to leave work as soon as humanly possible on this day (let alone hauling their bedraggled, possibly hung over carcasses into their fluorescent-lit, photo-and-ironic-toy-festooned sad little cubicles a Saturday) and would rather not crank up their Woodstein-y investigative juices up to a fever pitch just when they’re preparing to benumb themselves for 48-odd hours, barbecuing or spending time with a loved one or shopping for a nice new pair of slacks at Target or watching 300-kb men incur Dementia Pugilistica.

Basically, no one wants to either be forced to generate or feel some kind of moral imperative to consume 48-point font headlines screeching about corruption or the invasion/black ops bombing of a backwater third world hovel, when the vast portion of one’s cerebral cortex has shifted into put your feet up/kick back/consume beverages in totemic vessels with umbrellas mode

This too-long preamble is to let you know that our new lord and master of spreadsheets, Steve Mills, is aware of this practice, because the Knicks announced their final cuts a few minutes ago. Ready? Gird your loins, you may want to hide all the fire extinguishers and/or purchase an armored transport vehicle…

Sure. Murry totally deserved a spot. Yay Toure’! And I totally get keeping Aldrich over, say, Diogu. He is a legit center, if not a particularly skilled one, especially on the offensive end. You cannot teach altitude and whatnot, and he provides a credible presence on defense/the glass. Diogu could score, but he’s an undersized,  hustle-y/Tyler Hansbrough-y PF and given the makeup of the rest of the roster, that isn’t what this team needs. Aldrich also checks off the ‘upside’ box. There are not heaps of up to side to, but still.

And then there’s Chris Smith. No, he’s not good enough to be on an NBA roster. We’ve been hearing the nepotism chatter for awhile now, and yes, it does smack of all the gobsmackingly stupid, incestuous ways in which this so-called pro franchise has functioned for going on a decade plus. It also reaffirms all the paranoid musings about “CAA running the team” and/or Dolan having some kind of under-the-table deal w/the Smith family mafia clan in exchange for one of the two contracts that favorite son JR has signed over the past two offseasons.

Luckily for y’all, I studied at the Glenn Beck School of NBA Roster management (I majored in chalkboards). So here’s my thought: It doesn’t make keeping Smith any less of an atrocity, mind you, but it might make swallowing this fetid sack of derp a tad more palatable, like dousing a fecal fajita in hot sauce.

 

If the Knicks keep Smith past the 29th, he gets paid. Odds are, no one’s going to sign Tyler while he’s still wheeling around the practice facility on that one-knee scooter of his. When Tyler’s healthy, he rejoins the roster (or they pick up someone else of value who gets cut before Wednesday) and Lil Pipe either gets handed his pink slip or suffers a mysterious ‘injury’ of his own and maybe receives the Baron Davis I-get-to-be-part-of-the-team-but-no-one-really-knows-what-‘work’-I-actually-do role.

All of this though, still stinks. Giving a player a nice sack of consolation prizes just because he’s someone’s brother is bound to piss off the rest of the roster (at least the rest that isn’t related to Chris). I know and you probably know that nepotism/favoritism plays a part in any workplace, but when it happens at your/my job, we get really, really angry. No one wants to think that decisions in life aren’t based on pure merit. Basketball (and all sports) are supposed to be a respite from all that — a place where you succeed or fail on your skills alone, where the rules are clear and enforced, and, at the end of the day, you know exactly who’s won and who’s lost. No vast, unending, indecipherable, morally ambiguous (let alone outright rigged/corrupt/fixed) shades of gray. It’s a number. I have more, I win.

Of course, that’s never wholly the case either. Roster spots are often determined by salary/draft pick status. It’s never a pure Rand-ian meritocracy, but this is such a shameless example, so plaintively obvious, it’s bound to raise everyone’s hackles.

So yeah, this isn’t good. But maybe in a few weeks, it’ll be slightly less not-good. Optimism!

UPDATE [5:48pm] Well, this tweet isn’t definitive, but it certainly doesn’t dispel the tinfoil hat speculation I outlined.

Preseason Recap: Bobcats 85, Knicks 83

Since it’s Friday night and I’m sure all of y’all have far better, funner, more exciting-er things to do than stay up late waiting for some preseason grades for a dull, annoying defeat, especially since for the bulk of the evening it looked for all intents and purposes like the ‘Bockers were going to cruise to a giddily silly, easy preseason victory over a BobHorCatNets team that was without Big Al Jefferson.

We’ll try to keep the nervous biting of our fingernails down to bloody, culicle-strewn nubs to the minimum and repeat our fave October mantra—Knicku My?h? Preseasonenge Ky?—whilst we take a gander at some of the things we saw.

Guh. After a rollicking first half, in which they built the lead up to 19 points, they went Ice Station Zebra cold in the third, notching 12 points, missing what seemed like 1,642.6 shots in a row (4-22 total. Math doesn’t seem to exactly square up there. Gotta git one o’ them baskeball nerds to ‘spain what the margin of error is on my tabulations) in total, once of which was JR’s last-second, air guitar-inspiring heave.

 

 

They kept the advantage in the high single digits throughout the bulk of the final stanza, but then Kemba Walker—you know, another point guard who is swift of foot—started getting awfully toasty, and Son of Wood insisted on putting the starting five back in the game, even though said starters were possibly the least impressive quintet out of the multiple, Rubik’s Cube like variations the (thank God he shaved) Goateed One had at his disposal. So you lost the Snoopy Bowl, Mike. Rex Ryan’s gonna come over to your house and scream at you real loud for that.

And of course, the Knicks insisted on force-feeding the ball into Melo’s eager mitts, even on a night where nothing was falling, and they just kept ISO-ing and stagnantly jab-stepping away until the North Carolinians pulled ahead. On the last possession, I dunno, maybe they’re saving all the good plays for when these things count, but a down screen to clear out the ball for Anthony at the three point line so he can massage the rock for a few seconds before launching a contested 15 footer lacks imagination/creativity/proof activity in any of the four lobes of the cerebral hemisphere.

Then again, perhaps he didn’t want to risk yet another soporific, Canadian, double overtime affair. In that case, good job, Coach.

Knicku Myoho Preseasonenge Kyo…

Of course, it wasn’t an entirely derp-tastic, grating evening. Let’s start with the things that are good, shall we?.

BALL MOVEMENT: In the first half, he ball movement that we’ve all grown so fond of decided to show up for the fancy-shmancy new MSG unveiling. The second possession of the game featured a super-pretty Melo-Felton screen hand off followed immediately by a second one between Felt and Chander, freeing up the latter for a wide open anger-fueled TysonSmash. Of course, when the two PG-unit, this time featuring the all-Furriner stylings of Prigs and Udrih took the floor…kaboom! Pick and rolls at the top of the key, kickout passes to the weakside, spacing! Happiness! Rainbow-colored unicorns bearing comely maidens of virtue true holding plates of double fudge brownies with macadamia nuts n’ stuff! Three straight wide open treys splashing joyously through the net. Hm. Might be something worth considering…nah, fergit it. Chicks don’t dig smallball, mang.

RELATION TO CAA AND/OR THE SMITH FAMILY: Hard to say. You would think that a massive, uber-powerful corporate entity would be into sharing the wealth…actually, strike that. I’m sure they’re operating with a Rand-ian lust for self-improvement, even at the expense of the greater good. CAA agents probably hog the ball like Mofos.

DOES IT SURVIVE THE FINAL CUTDOWN: Sad to say, but CAA disapproves. Therefore, no more ball movement.

Knicku Myoho Preseasonenge Kyo…

 

DEFENSE: Defense? Yes, really. Defense. Granted, those cats from down south aren’t exactly the SSoL Suns, firepower-wise. But still, as a whole, they seemed a step or two quicker in reacting and rotating, especially closing out on shooters at the three point line. Our Italian friend too, did a much better job at helping at the rim, doing a nice job snuffing out a couple of Walker’s drives. Martin was active and springy and shout-y in his first live action, which is certainly nice for those of us who equally feared that Cole Aldrich and Bargs would be the sole backup pivots and Tyson getting pressed into 35 or more MPG. Heck, even Amar’e had a few solid sequences And yes, I think using the six fouls that he has allotted to him in whatever sub-20 minute restriction he’s working under as “solid,” or at least a productive usage of the resources at hand. Aggressive (or slightly over-aggressive) hackery is better than the glassy-eyed torpor that we’re used to from STAT.

RELATION TO CAA AND/OR THE SMITH FAMILY: To quote JR: “We want to be a defensive ballclub and I think he’s (Chris’s) a great defensive-minded player. He puts a lot of pressure on the ball when he guards it and he just flat-out likes to guard people.” They are a defensive lot, the Smiths.

DOES IT SURVIVE THE FINAL CUTDOWN: Indeed it does. Dee-fense! (clap, clap) Dee-fense! (clap, clap)

Knicku Myoho Preseasonenge Kyo…

 

JR AND STAT ARE BACK!: Well, that was a pleasant surprise! Our ol’ pals shed their walking boots and German platelets and bandages and cyborg-esque joint braces and actually played pro ball! I certainly didn’t think we’d see either of these two. I get starting the countdown on the suspension clock ASAP for JR, but Amar’e seems to have healed a lot quicker than any of us thought possible, especially after three visits to the surgeon in the last calendar year. Both looked like reasonable facsimiles of their former, healthy selves. STAT ha a couple of his now-trademark spin post ups and Smith’s fadeaway splashed the net more often than not. It’s not surprising that he didn’t have the burst to explode to the net yet, and there were a couple of times that his heave came awful early in the shot clock…but, well, that’s JR Smith.

RELATION TO CAA AND/OR THE SMITH FAMILY: JR is not, funnily enough, related to JR. Unless…wait. There are TWO JR SMITHs. Good JR and Bad JR. Maybe that’s how he can rock and roll all night and par-tay ev-er-y day! One goes out carousing with the ladies and the other goes to practice on time and stuff. And sometimes the two of them get confused which is which and so that’s why he can look like an all-star one moment and the foulest spawn of Lucifer the next! So yes, JR is related to JR.

DOES IT SURVIVE THE FINAL CUTDOWN: JR Smith has made the roster. Which JR it is remains to be seen.

Knicku Myoho Preseasonenge Kyo…

 

3,603,600: That’s how many different lineup combinations Woodson has at his disposal, disregarding the fact that certain players can really only play certain positions. The above figure includes a Tyson-Cole-Bargs-Martin-STAT pairing. Oh crap. No one show Woody this recap. He might try that, because size and rebounding or something. I mention this bit of abacus usage because it seems like Son of Wood tried out at least half those permutations tonight.

Once the starters left the game we were treated to a dizzying parade of possibilities. There was the cheesecloth frontcourt, which led to this tweet:

And this one..

 

They were joined on court by JR and Prigs. It started off kind of badly, two straight turnovers by Bargs and STAT, followed hard upon by some sort of zone, which gifted offensive wunderkind Bismarck Biyombo a wide open dunk. But then, things started to click. Pablo drained a three after pausing for what seemed like eons to contemplate his shoe/make sure he was over the line. I assumed he was composing a romantic ode to his laces but he couldn’t remember what the word is for those plastic thingies on the tips.

Shortly after, they trotted out a super small ball unit, featuring STAT-Metta-JR-Prigs-Tim Jr., with K-Mart and Udrih subbing in for Amar’e and JR. Like wave after wave of unkillable zombies they. Just. Kept. Coming.

Seriously though, this team runs 12-deep. They’ve got the talent and the versatility to play all manner of styles. And the hardest thing is going to be figuring out which one of them to utilize/works best. Injuries probably will make this a moot point, but if Woody wants to keep folks rested, he’s certainly got the Hessians coming in fresh as a summer morn to do it.

They do need nicknames, however. Here are some fine examples for the unhinged, let’s call them, Metta-Kenyon-Earl Jr. Trio.

 

 

 

 

 

Feel free to add your own.

RELATION TO CAA AND/OR THE SMITH FAMILY: Vertical integration and corporate synergy are incredibly valuable to long-term market power and stability. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it sounds buzzword-y and plausible, so we’ll say yes.

DOES IT SURVIVE THE FINAL CUTDOWN: CAA’s shadowy senior partners say yay.

And that should cover it. There were some more lovelies, like how awesome Shump is playing and the sensitive mic near the basket that caught Melo bellowing, “TYSON GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE,” when they both went up to snaggle a rebound, and some not so lovelies, like Metta smooshing a pale, oh-so-fragile looking, Children of the Corn-ish kid when diving, Oakley-like, into the stands for a loose ball…

 

BXdyIjEIAAAFuQQ

 

…and the MSG Network’s incessant pimping of the kajillion dollar bridges and scoreboards and possibly NSA-level listening devices they implanted at the faboo new Garden. Seriously, guys. I got it. I’ll come to the games in person if the team’s good, but this perpetual, unceasing selling feels painfully huckster-ish. It’s an arena, not a ShamWOW.

Wednesday night, y’all. The real deal. Your 2013-14 New York Knickerbockers!

Knicku Myoho Preseasonenge Kyo…

Bucks 105, Knicks 95

New York Knicks 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Milwaukee Bucks

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Andrea Bargnani, PF 25 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -25

Yes, it’s an utterly flawed stat, but let’s saunter over to the poor ol’ plus/minus category and see what we…DEAR GOD. Yes, that’s a negative twenty-five. Yes, that’s entirely reflective of how badly the Knicks played when he was on the court, especially in the ongoing Michelson-Morley experiment that is the 4/5 pairing with Melo. There were some nifty post moves smattered hither and yonder, but those were mostly offset by the hilarity of watching him try to take Larry Sanders in the post, resulting in two consecutive turnovers He can’t be in the starting lineup this time on Wednesday. He just can’t (more on this in a jiffy).

Carmelo Anthony, SF 36 MIN | 8-23 FG | 4-7 FT | 9 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | -10

You know when you get your zipper snagged oand your face is curled into a little fist of desperate, inchoate rage as you pull and tear, zip and unzip, your fingers too big to dislodge the surrounding bit of fabric and so you just end up dumbly pulling the entire garment up over your body, lest another human being walk by and see you spastically trapped by a straightjacket of your own devising? Well, that was Melo’s evening in a nutshell. He seemed unsure of where to isolate (and when he did, to limited success), kvetched relentlessly about fouls that were and were not called. He did locate open ‘mates en route to seven assists, and the offense was so discombobulated as a whole, it’s hard to totally fault Melo, but tonight’s game brought back icky memories of last season’s winter of team-wide mediocrity.

Tyson Chandler, C 17 MIN | 3-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -12

Scant action tonight for Tyson, none of it particularly good. As we know all too well, outside of a PnR-centric offense, he tends to disappear. He also looked like a man trying to chase a pen full of agitated barnyard chickens, what with all the times that a Stag got past his original defender. After the game, he unleashed these pearls of wisdom:

Sounds like a great plan, Tyson. You’d probably have better luck to trying to teach Quantum Mechanics to a Pygmy Marmot Marmoset [h/t Seth at P&T, Lord and Protectorate of all hoops-wildlife references], but your heart’s in the right place, and hey, YOLO! Actually, if Tyson’s forced to scramble all season as much as he did tonight, he may suffer a stress-induced cerebral hemorrhage. So, you know, give it a try, but you do only live once.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 17 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7

A slew of pest-astic moments, but he seems out of sorts working outside of the two-PG offense (yes, we’ll get there soon. I promise. Now stop fidgeting in the backseat or I’m turning this recap around and we’re all going home). I think some of his lackluster play can be ascribed to whatever illness or malady kept him out of Monday’s game — the Argentine Flu, perhaps? Early in the first quarter, he seemed to sort of limp/stagger off, with Clyde posting the notion that he was hurt. I dunno about you, but the though of a Prig-free ‘Bocker squad made me scurry down to my survival bunker and start busting out the survival seed packets and heavy armaments. Luckily, he returned later in the half, fresh as a daisy, smelling of unicorn farts and seducing ladies and gentlemen both with a devilish, insouciant twinkle in his eye.

Iman Shumpert, SG 29 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -18

Remember the media day quote where Shump expressed his distaste for his personal calling card, stating he’s only prone to perimeter thievery because he so desires the spheroid object, longing nothing more than to return in to the cylinder that is its natural resting place? (I may be paraphrasing a bit.) We got a few of those scintillating moments tonight, plus a nifty two handed putback and a couple of smooth jumpers off the bounce. And for all our fretting about his emotional state after yet another public tongue lashing from Woody, Coach is right: He overpursues like a fiend. OJ Mayo should probably send a sweet presentation gift basket for all of the unimpeded paths to the tin Shump’s overeager lurching provided.

Ike Diogu, PF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

IKE DIOGU PRESEASON ANAGRAM: I OK. GUIDE

C.J. Leslie, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Wait, did C.J. play? Insert “He’s so skinny (How skinny is he?)…that when he stands sideways he gets counted absent,” joke here.

Metta World Peace, SF 22 MIN | 3-12 FG | 3-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +9

Nothing new under the sun. Some solid individual and team defense. A Smithian ropensity to pass up an easier shot in favor of an off-balance runner/fadeaway/ill-advised drive. Of course, his burgeoning friendship with Iman Shumpert is as heartwarming as mewling baby kittens and as terrifying as those self-same cats, now fully grown, in heat, hissing and trying to claw your eyes out.

Cole Aldrich, C 14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +20

I guess it was Cole’s turn to spin the backup-big-who-might-make-the-roster-assuming-Murry-and-Tyler-have-assured-themselves-of-making-the-roster wheel. And hey (Larry David voice), he looked prettttty good, pretttttty good. He’s still got moves around the basket that look like he’s just a relatively tall bit actor from Hoosiers and/or Glory Road (the goofy fumble of a pick and roll feed from Urdih, only to grab what appeared to be a well-lubricated pig in lieu of a leather ball, followed by a bricked dunk being Exhibit A), but he snaggled more than his share of offensive rebounds and actually provided a presence in the middle as opposed to what occurred when Tyson was sitting on the bench working on his scrapbooking and the large Italian fellow played the position with all the grace, speed, purpose, and effectiveness of a 50-lb wheel of finely-aged Parmesan cheese.

Beno Udrih, PG 31 MIN | 3-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -3

Such a chucker. And yet another Knick that seems to think a 15-20 footer is the absolute bees-knees, shot selection wise. When they go in, great, but it’s worth noting that Indiana and Chicago led the league in encouraging said midrange shots. You know, the best defenses in all the land. an

Toure’ Murry, SG 13 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -4

Despite the Knickerbockers attempt to build themselves yet another point out two-guard parts they pilfered from various graves, (See Shumpert, Iman) Toure’s not a floor general. His handle’s too wobbly and really thinks creating means “find a lane for an improbable floater.” His defensive instincts are solid, but he’s still learning how to react to the speed of an NBA game. That said, if the Knicks sacrifice him at the alter of CAA or brotherly love or some shady, under-the-table/Devil’s agreement with the mafia clan that is the Smith family, we’re all gonna throw a major league hissy fit.

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 34 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +4

Looks like opposing teams (or at least the Bucks) popped a couple of tapes from the previous couple of games into their Betamax. They were closing a lot quicker on Timmy Jr., so it was neat to see him look to drive on a few occasions. There’s a lot to like here, especially when he’s surrounded by actual rotation players — he’s definitely got the athleticism to be a solid finisher, he gets in a good, low crouch on defense (though his lateral movement isn’t the greatest), and he’s a hellion on the break.

Five Things We Saw

  1. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m running out of “It’s only preseason…” smiley-face stickers to plaster over what is becoming a permanent sour expression. Granted, last year ’round this same time, we were similarly fretting about the rotation and how all these disparate, ill-fitting pieces could ever possibly work together once they finally recovered from injuries and maladies ranging from “nagging” to “needs a trip to Lourdes.”
  2. So yeah, that turned out relatively well. But tonight, the offense once again looked brackishly stagnant. There werew wayyyyyy too many isolation sets for Melo (7 dimes notwithstanding) and very few moments when the ball rotated from the strong to the weak side. The defense remains an ongoing mystery. They were absolutely torched by Mayo, Butler, Ridnour, et al, and it didn’t even look particularly difficult. One pass or half-decent screen and the Milwaukeeans had a wide open look — both on the perimeter and in the paint. Hell, at times it seems that the goal of all the switching and unecessary doubling is to encourage open threes. Part of it is certainly due to the lack of familiarity with Woodson’s system, which if it’s going to work, requires at lot of moving parts to be in harmony. That’s clearly not the case right now. A set rotation would certainly help a ton, but this Rube Goldberg device isn’t going to be made whole till we know who’s the mouse eating the cheese and who’s the little metal ball that the bobbing-head duck bonks into the cup.
  3. I get wanting to experiment with a big lineup (even if it’s really just a tall lineup). But all of this feels like a dumb overreaction to what happened in Nap Town in the playoffs (like an extended sooper-stoopid to start Martin in game 4). There’s an old line about “generals are always preparing to fight the last war, instead of preparing for the new, different one that is yet to come.” The Knicks found an identity last year. Now’s the time when they should be building on that. You have a top 5-ish offense and a defense that’s going to drive a sturdy man/woman to drink/put a lot of dents in rich mahogany desks. That’s okay. There’s something to be said for trying to cobble together a more balanced unit, but they’re risking robbing Peter absolutely blind in order to toss a spare nickel into homeless Paul’s sad, bedraggled hands as they clutch a disposable coffee cup. Please, Son of Wood. You did say you could go back to the two PG lineup if need be. Well, it really, RILLY needs be. This (whatever ‘this’ is supposed to be) isn’t working. Start with Prigs-Felt-Shump-Melo-Tyson. I don’t care if STAT and Bargs have overlapping skill sets. You have no idea how often the latter’s going to be able to suit up, no matter how many times he says his balsa wood knees feel ‘great’ (and it’s not like Bargs has been the bastion of health either). Please?
  4. So in the midst of all this hand-wringing, I have yet another concern, if slightly less grave. Woody’s beard. I fear that it has become self-aware and is trying to devour the rest of his head.
  5. And that’ll do it. One more preview and then this wobbly theatrical construct opens on Broadway. And if you’re really upset about this game (like I was), read this article about Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’ll put all of this First World Problems ish to rest, tout suite.

    Until Friday, then. Go Knicks!

Preseason Game Thread: Knicks v. Bucks

In anticipation of the last leg of this too-long road trip, made possible by the installation of fancy newfangled gee-gaws and whiz-bangers at the World’s Most Famous, I asked friend-of-the-blog, Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball to provide this handy-dandy primer on the kids from Milwaukee.

1. There’s been a lot of chatter about Herb Kohl’s “win now/no rebuilding” demands and how it affected the Bucks’ offseason. What did you think of the moves they made? What was the best signing or trade/what was the worst?

It’s hard not to get swept up in Giannis fever right now, so I’ll say drafting him was the best move the Bucks made this offseason. Kohl certainly wants to contend, so it’s nice to see that John Hammond was able to operate under that mandate but also take a big swing for the fences too.

As far as trades and signings go, I’ll go with the Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight trade. Jennings had to go and maybe Knight isn’t the answer at point guard, but the Bucks can take this season to see if he is or isn’t. Then they’ll be in position to either move forward with him or address the position in an upcoming point guard right (possibly) draft. That sounds a lot better than investing four more years into Brandon Jennings.


2. Who are the youngsters (Young Bucks, if you will) that we should keep an eye on. Feel free to wax poetic about Giannis.
Giannis will make you keep an eye on him at some point. He’ll do something that draws everyone’s attention at some point and a lot of things that will make you wonder what the fuss is all about the rest of the game. But that one moment, that’s what we’re living for in Milwaukee right now.

Other than that, John Henson has a swooping lefty hook that’s interesting and a healthy appetite for rebounds. Larry Sanders is known now, but he still blocks shots and gets agitated. Khris Middleton has been getting a lot of minutes at the three and four as a shooter/scorer type, so he might make some plays tonight.

 

3. When attempting to forecast the seedings in the Eastern Conference, most talk about a top four — Miami, Indiana, Chicago, and Brooklyn — then the Knicks, and then the remaining three playoff spots essentially being up for grabs for any team not located in Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando, or Charlotte. How do you feel about the Bucks’ chances? Where do you think they’ll finish this season?

Before the preseason started I thought the Bucks were a contender for that sixth spot in the East possibly. Now I think they’re a possible longer shot at the playoffs than anyone in Milwaukee realized. A lot is going to rest of Knight actually being a point guard that can create for his teammates and OJ Mayo being able to handle the number one scoring duties with success. Those are two shaky propositions.
The early season may be rough, but I’m still thinking they can sneak into the playoffs. The eight or nine spot have been home for the Bucks often over the past 10 years and I suspect they’ll find that home again this season.

Preseason Game Thread: Knicks v. Raptors

Bonjour camarade Knicker-backers!

Il est temps à nouveau pour le basket de pré-saison. Ce soir, nous sommes de retour dans les terres balayées par le vent glorieux du Canada, pour une autre bataille de volontés entre les New-Yorkais et les Dinosaures de Toronto!

Voici les partants pour le match de ce soir

Et bien sûr, nous ne pouvons pas avoir un espace pour discuter sans notre rapport quotidien des blessures. Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire, et Pablo Prigioni ne joueront pas. Andrea Bargnani va entrer dans la mêlée, malgré les rapports de rigidité arrière pendant le week-end.

Allons-y, Knicks!

Preseason Game Thread: Knicks v. Wizards in Bal’mer

So in lieu of a bunch of tired references to The Wire, I asked Kylie Wedle of the TrueHoop Wizards Blog, Truthaboutit.net, a few questions about the cats from D.C. I also babbled about the Knicks a bit here.

 

1. According to most prognosticators, Washington is among a group that will be battling for the 6/7/8 slots in the East. Can they exceed those expectations? Are they too lofty? What do the Wizards need to do to net their first 50-win season since 1979?

Definitely not too lofty… to make the playoffs at least. 50 wins? Let’s get to 40 first.

This Wizards team has the talent that ‘can’ exceed 5-6-7 seed expectations, but probably not for another 18-24 months and/or unless something catastrophic happens to one or two of the teams higher in the pecking order (which certainly includes the Knicks).

Otherwise, the talk is “playoffs or bust” around these parts — John Wall will be going through the meaningless (and perhaps menial) exercise of writing “playoffs” on all of his shoes to let people know that he cares, and team-fueled media can’t stop gabbing about how “those around the league” say that the Wizards “look” like a playoff team.

I have a fair amount of confidence that both Wall and Bradley Beal will excel at bearing their share of the weight this season (given they stay healthy — both uber-athletic guards still need to learn how to control the reckless abandon a little bit). Which brings us to our keys:

1) Health — if Wall is writing “playoffs” on his shoes, then team owner Ted Leonsis and president of basketball ops Ernie Grunfeld should be sewing “health” into their pleated pants and cardigans; 2) Post Play — Nene, who perhaps falls under the ‘necessary to be healthy’ category more so than Wall and Beal, must be an offensive post threat for this team to rise out of the doldrums of horrendous offense; and 3) Other Dudes — somebody, anybody who the Wizards have drafted over the past three seasons not named Wall or Beal will have to make themselves a palpable role player.

 

2. Regarding, John Wall’s extension, some roundly criticized Grunwaldfeld (EDITOR’S NOTE: That was my typo. Whether I’m subconsciously pining for Glen or my MS Word knows I write about the Knicks too much, I’ll let y’all decide.) et al. for the move. What do you think? What does Wall need to do justify his contract? Do you think he will?

The price was a little too high for my liking, but I’m also not in the business of balancing star ego, agent leverage, common sense, and contract status symbolism.

Yes, the Wizards are burning some flexibility down the road, but what team giving out max contracts isn’t? Plus, it’s somewhat understandable that Washington opted to get the extension done this summer, as opposed to waiting until the summer of 2014 when Wall would have been a restricted free agent, perhaps allowing the market to set the price.

When you’re a hapless franchise like the Wizards, you want to avoid having the uncertain contract status of a former No. 1 pick and potential superstar hanging over the franchise’s head. You want to avoid making Wall pout (he previously said that he would have been disappointed had he and the Wizards not agreed on an extension this summer). And perhaps most importantly, you want to stay on the good side of super agent Dan Fegan, who wields enough power to increase the attractiveness of Washington as a free agent destination (Al Harrington, perhaps a sleeper free agent sign for the Wizards this past summer, is a Fegan client.)

Wall needs to do a lot to justify his contract, and 80 percent of me feels that he will eventually get there. But first, he needs to win. Then he needs to make the playoffs. Then he needs that he’s not a one-and-done playoff performer by year three of this extension (which, as it kicks in next season, would be getting past the first round by 2016-17).

 

3. Are there any D.C.’ers we should pay attention to in this game that Knick fans might not have heard of? What young’ns have impressed/disappointed?

Essentially all young’ns not named Wall or Beal have disappointed to various degrees.

Keep an eye on Kevin Seraphin. The team asked him not to play for the French national team at EuroBasket so they could train him in D.C. all summer. He’s a big body with very nice touch, the problem is that he’s terrible at combating double teams, is a poor rebounder, can’t get to the free throw line, and is still relatively unaware on defense. Thems a lot of problems.

Otherwise, 2011 sixth overall pick Jan Vesely has been nothing but a bust so far; 2010 mid-first rounder Trevor Booker is tough but undersized and can’t seem to stay healthy; and 2011 mid-first rounder Chris Singleton (thought to be a Knicks target, they took Shumpert instead — aren’t you happy?) is currently out with a fractured foot and was on the outside looking-in anyway. The third overall pick in 2013, Otto Porter, has battled nagging injuries since summer league and hasn’t even practiced during training camp and preseason, ominously bringing potential disappointment — big time — to his rookie campaign.

Keep another eye on Glen Rice, Jr., a 2013 second round pick — Knicks fans have certainly heard of his dad. Junior, having spent a year in the D-League after being booted from Georgia Tech for disciplinary problems, has impressed with his offensive game and rebounding thus far, and could be ready for immediate, somewhat significant contribution.

 

No Metta World Peace tonight, so we should get to see more of Timmy Jr. tonight. Should be a pip. After all…

 

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Go Knicks!

On Carmelo Anthony’s Free Agency Chatter. DO NOT PANIC. ALL IS WELL. REMAIN CALM.

If you recall, back on September 11th, our sterling smallish power forward/large small forward was asked about his future employment options.

He said:

I’m not. I’m just not going to do it,” he said. “I’m going to let everybody know the first day that I’m not going to talk about it. Hopefully you guys and your colleagues respect that, and that’s it.

 

Got it. Great. He will not discuss this issue. You can ask till you’re Phthalocyanine Blue, till you’re Blue-r than Tobias Fünke trying to get into the Blue Man Group, but Master Carmelo Kyam Anthony shall speak no further on this subject. When it comes to free agency, he’s a Benedictine ballin’ monk. Fin.

Of course, today we got to read this New York Observer  interview. I highly recommend perusing the whole thing, if only because the lede and the tag is a joke about Melo getting into an elevator with a Hasidic Jew, features tales of Melo dealing in foreign currency speculation (THERE’S NO RELATION BETWEEN MONETARY INVESTMENT AND THE PRESENCE OF THE SEMITIC PEOPLES. STOP THAT RIGHT NOW.), and is in general a fascinating read.

Of course, the part that is drawing the most attention is this juicy quote:

I want to be a free agent. I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It’s like you have an evaluation period, you know. It’s like if I’m in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience.

 

Hm. That would seem to contradict the prior statement, if not for the fact that the bulk of the interview seems to have occurred at around the same time frame as the first quote — September 10th or 11th.

I’m speculating here, but odds are, something this this occurred. Melo gave a freewheeling long-form interview with the Observer (He digs the pink newsprint. So do I!). There were one or two of Melo’s representatives present for this interview (they always are), either from CAA or his PR team. They heard the statement about wanting to be a free agent, about wanting to be wanted and/or needing to be  needed and courted and realized pretty quickly how badly that would play, that Melo’d come off sounding like Dwight Howard’s burbling id incarnate/any vague chatter about free agency would cause a media kerfluffle, so they whispered in his ear that a follow up quote should be issued tout suite, thus resulting in the, “I’m not talking about it,” line.

I.e., the first quote actually came after the Observer piece.

So my general advice would be not to freak out. That this doesn’t in any way represent a change of heart/sudden burst of wanderlust on Melo’s part. I think we’re all pretty settled on the fact that Melo will be opting out after this season. Whether he takes the full max or settles for less in the name of saving a few PabloBucks to spend on the rest of the roster remains to be seen.

But if Melo needs any confirmation about how badly the Knicks do want to retain him, I am more than willing to front JD and the Straight Shot for one song and sing this ditty, whenever and wherever he so desires. Melo’s a big Elvis Costello fan, right?