Joakim Noah’s recovery time from knee surgery just got an involuntary extension. The Knicks center has been suspended for 20 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, the NBA announced today.
Noah tested positive for using over the counter supplements. The substance is known as SARMs, and per the US Anti-Dopy Agency is a drug that has “anabolic agents” without the side effects of traditional steroid use.
Noah, who is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million dollar contract with the Knicks, has not played a game since February 4 and was expected to miss the rest of the season due to left knee surgery. The suspension will begin once Noah is medically cleared to play at the beginning of next season.
Noah is averaging 5 points and 8 rebounds over 46 games this year.
What an embarrassment. However, I’m not convinced this is actually a bad thing. Anything that gets Willy Hernangomez more minutes and time to get acclimated as our starting center is a blessing. As for Noah, we’re stuck with him for three more years. No GM that wants to remain employed will take that contract, so we can only hope Noah gets himself together enough to contribute something.
All hail Lord Porzingis! Our second-year big man took down formidable competition in DeMarcus Cousins, Nikola Jokic, and Gordon Hayward to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge last night. The key to the challenge was being an accurate long-range shooter, a skill that has always been a cornerstone of Porzingis’s offense. This award should be a great boost for KP’s confidence as the Knicks try to refocus for an improved second half of the season.
What a crap performance. There isn’t a better way to describe our last outing in D.C. against the Wizards. After coming off Kristaps Porzingis scoring a career high 35 points, everyone was optimistic that the team may have turned the corner. Instead we got a lethargic team in the second night of a back to back that allowed one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league to torch them for 45 points from downtown (15/25, 60%) and shoot 54% from the field.
The Knicks staged a faux pas comeback in the fourth after falling behind nearly 30 points, but New York would get no closer that seven points down the stretch. If you’re looking for bright spots, you can hope Derrick Rose (27 points, 3/5 from three) and Brandon Jennings (17 points, 7/10, +19) continue the improved shooting.
It bears repeating — this team will only go as far as their ability on defense, particularly when it comes to guarding the three-point line.
Things will get no easier to close November as New York has Atlanta, Portland, Charlotte (2X), Oklahoma City and Minnesota over the next two weeks.
We are privileged to watch the growth of a future superstar. Kristaps Porzingis delivered a career-high 35 points to lead the Knicks to a close 105-102 win over the Pistons at Madison Square Garden. Despite a focused game, the scrappy Pistons made sure the Knicks worked for this win until the final buzzer.
FEED THE BEAST: Melo said before the season that he’s never played with a weapon like Derrick Rose. That applies even more so to Porzingis, who feasted to a 25 point first half and truly showed how versatile (and scary) his game is. He worked unblockable fadeaways in the post, ran the floor for contested layups on fast breaks, and burned Detroit for three three-pointers. He shot 13/22 from the field and managed to get to the line seven times.
I said earlier in the week that Porzingis can take the reins at the #1 option in 2-3 years. But if he keeps up this pace, we might have a changing of the guard by next year.
MELO’S NOT TOO SHABBY: All the attention on KP should not negate another efficient game from Carmelo Anthony: 22 points (13/22), 5 rebounds and 3 assists. For this team to work, both guys need to continue being the one-two punch on scoring.
IMPROVED DEFENSE: We’re still a work in progress, but the last two games have shown some marked improvements. The Knicks are playing defense with their legs and stayed in front of their assignments. The Pistons were held to 12 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the Knicks. Joakim Noah’s (7 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks) defense, particularly in the first half on Andre Drummond, proved very effective. Drummond was contained to 15 points and 9 rebounds.
The glaring problem remains the three-point defense, which allowed Detroit to claw their way back in the fourth and nearly force overtime on the final play. Once that area gets under control, we’ll see a lot more easier wins.
SOLID BENCH PERFORMANCES: Justin Holiday (9 points, 5 rebounds) continued his solid play on both ends of the floor. Brandon Jennings was hot-dogging out there too much (got called for a carry), but his 7 assists keep the offense flowing in his 17 minutes. Kyle O’Quinn got the nod over Hernangomez and made the most of his 15 minutes. He tallied 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks (including one on Drummond) and 2 assists. Outside of KP, O’Quinn just might be our best post defender.
The Knicks complete their back to back tomorrow night in D.C. against the Wizards.
Since coming to New York, the scrutiny on Carmelo Anthony has been high. And with New York not making the playoffs the last several years, some have come to view the perennial all-star as “overrated” and not even a Top 20 player in the league.
Foot Locker brilliantly captured that sentiment while giving Melo the chance to poke back with their “Week of Greatness” commercial series. Two fans attempt to belittle Melo’s accomplished career, but he quiets them with one simple question.
Fun aside, this is a make or break seventh year for Melo in New York. With future franchise player Kristaps Porzingis in his second year and the acquisition of Derrick Rose, a losing record and missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year will have fans and media alike calling for Melo’s head. The tepid 5-7 Knicks record and Anthony’s own recent haphazard play (21 points on 42% shooting, 28% from three), have not helped matters.
Nonetheless, we’re not even a full month into the season. Carmelo Anthony has more than enough time to make his real-life detractors eat their words just like this commercial.
We can all finally exhale. The key to the Knicks franchise is back with today’s announcement that Sasha Vujacic has agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum!
Okay, stop rolling your eyes and sucking your teeth. The reason Sasha drew so much hate early last season was due to being forced into a role bound for failure. Even at his best, it was a stretch to have him as your starting shooting guard. Because of Arron Afflalo’s hamstring injury, the Knicks had little choice. Paired with Jose Calderon, the duo was horrific on both ends of the floor and were arguably the worst starting backcourt in the league.
Following the All-Star Break, we got a better idea of Vujacic’s usefulness. In spot minutes he proved effective as an annoying, pesky defender and spot-up three-point shooting (45% over the season’s second half). Then rookie Kristaps Porzingis cited him as a valuable mentor. And with the addition of more Euros (Hernangomez, Kuzmiskas), Vujacic might be what the doctor ordered by bridging the cultural gap with the rest of the squad.
Is Sasha a legit SG backup for Courtney Lee? Absolutely not — but for additional bench depth, this is acceptable. And who knows, maybe Sasha will turn into a crowd favorite if he becomes the “human cigar” inserted during blowouts. For now, let’s feast on some of Sasha’s memorable moments from last season.
Who??? Don’t feel bad — I’m willing to bet 99% of Knicks fans had no idea who this Lithuanian small forward was before the Knicks announced their deal earlier this week. Although the financial details have yet to be disclosed, the Knicks brass apparently really wanted Kuzminskas and went as far as securing a high-figure buyout from his Turkish team.
So how can he help this team? At 6’9, he adds depth at small forward and appears to have a game predicated on getting to the basket. In recent years, the Knicks have been relegated to a jump-shooting team due to poor athleticism. Kuzminskas looks to be a guy that finishes well on breaks and offers a bench spark.
The highlights left me with one main concern — does this guy have a jumper? The clips were heavy on dunks and layups, but I’m happy to report Kuzminskas has offensive versatility to his game. According to Synergy Sports Tech, Kuzminskas had a FG% on 74% in transition, 58% on spot-up jumpers, and 53% in the post last season.
If his game translates well to the NBA, don’t be surprised to see him turn into a quick Garden favorite.
The starting lineup is complete. Eight year guard Courtney Lee has signed four year, $48 million contract with the New York Knicks.
Word broke earlier this weekend about the Knicks’ offer. A confidential source told ESPN that Lee mulled the offer before speaking with the team’s othrt new signee — Joakim Noah.
[It] would not have happened without Joakim Noah. Courtney understands what playing for the New York Knicks means. He wanted to play in New York and Joakim Noah was instrumental recruiting him. Would not have happened without Joakim. Courtney couldn’t be more excited.
Lee started last season with the Memphsi Grizzlies before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets. He played in 79 games (started 65), averaging 9.5 points (45% FG, 38% 3P%), 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
This could be our sleeper free agent signing of the summer. With D-Rose’s penetration ability and the double teams that will come Melo and (to a lesser extent) Porzingis’ way, Lee will be get a lot of open looks from three-point range. Another plus is Lee’s playoff experience (including a Finals trip with Orlando in 2009) means he’s not one to shy away from the big shot.
But even more important than Lee’s offense is his ability to shut down opposing players. Too often in recent years, the Knicks have gotten killed on the perimeter due to our slow guards. Lee, as recently as this year’s playoffs, showed how underrated and important his defense can be in the fourth quarter.
And Lee is not injury prone! If our starting five stays healthy, I like our chances to make noise in 2017. Now let’s hop Phil can work some magic filling out this bench.
Joakim Noah is coming home. The New York native and career Chicago Bull confirmed his new deal with the New York Knicks by posting the above picture on Instagram.
Noah’s contract is a four year deal totaling $70-72 million.
Noah had his best year in 2014 when he won Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Noah is coming off an injury plagued 2016 season where he played 29 games and struggled to find a role under new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. He posted a career low scoring average (4 points).
Yesterday, I was very leering on the Knicks paying $18 million a year for Noah, especially with the horrible season he had last year. But today (July 1), I had a chance to look at the ridiculous deals a lot of players have gotten already in this free agency process. From that perspective, Noah’s deal isn’t that bad at all. Now, this could certainly be a disaster if Noah can’t stay healthy. But if he’s reinvigorated in his hometown, his passing and defense paired with Porzingis and Melo’s scoring gives us a tremendous frontcourt presence.