Welcome (officially) to the Iso Zo era. Undrafted rookie sensation Allonzo Trier has agreed to a two-year deal, the New York Knicks announced this morning.
Trier was on a two-way contract that could have made him a free agent at the end of this season. With his breakout performances, the Knicks decided not risk a potential bidding war and used their entire bi-annual exception ($7 million) to keep Trier in orange and blue for the next two years. In 2020, he will enter the market as a restricted free agent.
To make room, the Knicks had to make a roster cut. Guard Ron Baker, in the second year of a deal paying $9 million ($4.5 this year), was the odd man out. The move, combined with the $18.5 million being paid to the waived Joakim Noah, means the Knicks have to take a cap hit of $23 million this year.
But next year, the Knicks will have freed up an extra $3.5 million in cap flexibility. Currently, they’re projected to have nearly $29 million, which is within striking range of max money for a veteran free agent superstar or possibly Kevin Durant with a few more space-clearing moves.
All in all, Knicks fans should be very happy with this move. The way Trier’s progressing, this contract may very well turn out to be a steal.
Coming into Monday’s game against the Nets, the Knicks had effectively hit rock bottom. Just 24 hours before, the team had squandered a 19-point lead at home to the Pelicans. KP was in a shooting and confidence slump. Ntilikina had been MIA on offense the last week. And the team fell five games below .500 for the first time this year.
But nothing says bounce-bank like seeing the Nets on the schedule. The team delivered a high-level performance that saw both Porzingis and Ntilikina have strong games, and the bench contributed 70 points for an easy 119-104 victory in Brooklyn. With a seven-game road trip looming, this was a much-needed confidence-booster for a team facing their most important stretch of the season.
PORZINGIS WAKES UP: Before Monday’s game, KP claimed to have had an epiphany. He acknowledged that he’s been forcing up too many shots in an effort to live up to his billing as the “first option.” He now realizes that to be the leader goes beyond scoring. Against the Nets, he focused on letting the game come to him and making the “right play.”
This approach resulted in one of his best shooting games of the season (8/14, 26 points). He was also a terror on defense, grabbing 9 rebounds and two blocks. He appeared relaxed and did everything in the flow of the offense. And the biggest thing for me was he appears to have his stamina back.
NTILIKINA SHOWS LIFE: With Jarrett Jack having logged heavy minutes the night before, it was up to Ntilikina to handle the PG load. The rookie responded by nearly dropping a triple-double (10 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds). We’ve been begging for him to look for his jumper and he did, which allowed for more floor spacing and better ball movement. There were still a few times where he passed up shots when driving into the lane, but we have to trust that’ll come with more experience.
BENCH MOB: Every bench player aside from Joakim Noah saw the floor and contributed. New signee Trey Burke hit his first jumper as a Knick and managed to dish out two assists in eight minutes. Even with the limited time, you could see his ability to get to the rim will prove very valuable when the offense breaks down.
The Nets’s leaky defense had Michael Beasley looking like Shawn Kemp in the fourth quarter. After a slow start (3/8), Beasly started abusing Brooklyn in the post and scored with several dunks, including a putback on his own miss. In 29 minutes, he was 10/18 from the floor with 23 points and 10 rebounds. The other big contributors were Kyle O’Quinn (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and Doug McDermott (13 points).
New York begins their road-trip on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies.
We’ve come to the point in the season where most Knick fans have accepted we’re a bad team. You either continue to watch games out of habit, to see if our younger players further develop, or hope we’ll continue to lose to gain better draft position. You can put me in all categories as we limp to the end of the season having dropped six of our last seven.
KP GETS CLUTCH MINUTES: Porzingis got in foul trouble AGAIN (5), but managed to stay on the court and get to be the offensive focal point in the fourth. We desperately need him to get confidence and use his length to space the floor for others. While he had a strong offensive night (24 points), he struggled defensively dealing with the strength of Rudy Gobert, who posted a career-high 35 points and grabbed 13 boards (11 on the offensive glass).
ROSE STOPPED BY INJURY: D-Rose was having a good night (17 points, 6 points) until a right foot injury took him out in the third. He would not return, and luckily x-rays came back negative.
The rest of the team seemed to be just going through the motions. There wasn’t any flow to the offense late in the fourth, and that allowed Utah to outscore New York 36-26 in the fourth.
The tank…er…season continues on tonight with the Knicks visiting the Trailblazers.
The Knicks didn’t lay down yesterday afternoon for the Warriors. They fought hard and kept it close until the sheer depth and talent of the Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter behind timely shots from Klay Thompson (29 points) and Steph Curry (31 points) to hand NY their second consecutive loss. Even with Durant out, no one gave us much of a chance to pull this off. However, the game did have some positives for our younger players.
PORZINGIS FIGHTS THROUGH ADVERSITY: KP struggled at times to get his shot from the Warriors’ physical play, but he never looked discouraged and kept fighting. For that reason, he managed a double double with 24 points and 15 rebounds. This is significant progress because last year Draymond Green completely locked him up. The rebounding is most promising considering at times he was boxing out a bruiser like David West to get them.
BAKER AND HOLIDAY: These two combined for 19 points on 54% shooting off the bench. They were pivotal in keeping the game close once the starters sat. In his 23 minutes, Baker was a +10.
D-ROSE LEADS THE WAY: As has been the trend this season, Derrick Rose gets up for marquee PG matchups. The refs gave up him fair shake on calls, resulting in him going 10/11 from the charity stripe. Overall, Rose finished with 28 points. Unfortunately, the reason we normally lose when Rose leads all scorers is that the offensive flow sucks and others are frozen out. In this case, Melo only managed 15 points on 6/12 shooting and Lance Thomas, who’s played well as a starter in recent games, was held scoreless over 27 minutes.
4th QUARTER EXECUTION: With 5:56 left in the game, New York was only down 97-93. But the Warriors showed why they’re the odds-on favorite to win the title. Thompson and Curry had some dagger three-pointers coupled with Green getting to the line. Golden State also tightened up their defense to force turnovers.
What a difference defense makes. Kristaps Porzingis returned from a sprained ankle and delivered 20 points and 9 rebounds to lead a defense-minded Knicks over the Magic 101-90. It was one of the rare times the Knicks played consistent defense and entire night and didn’t falter on defense in the fourth. How did they do it? It started with a simple lineup change.
SLIDING TO NATURAL POSITIONS: With Willy Hernangomez sitting out, Porzingis started at center, which moved Carmelo Anthony to power forward and Lance Thomas into the starting lineup at small forward. This improved the defense tremendously as Melo could no longer be exploited by athletic SFs. It remains to be seen if this can continue against teams with prolific stretch fours.
ANTHONY SETS THE TONE: Melo poured in 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter. He didn’t shoot well (4/16), but his presence was enough to open up the floor. His passing was much better than the two assists he tallied, making him a +18 for the game.
ROSE AND KP: Derrick Rose was arguably our best all-around player tonight. He poured in 19 points on 8/14 shooting, but also grabbed 7 rebounds to go with 4 assists.
The concern with KP playing center are potential injuries due to his thin frame. Tonight, he banged with Nikola Vuceviv and held his own. The three point shot wasn’t there (2/7), but he did damage on PNR and looked fluid working off the dribble.
LANCE THOMAS: I’ve been giving this guy grief for most of the year. But he finally seems healthy and ready to recapture last season’s form. His defense was a contributing factor to the Magic never getting into a groove and only managing 39 points in the second half. Lance was also competent on offense, being one of five Knicks to hit double figures with 11 points.
The Knicks road trip continues against the 76ers on Friday.
To tank or not to tank? Carmelo Anthony believes not to, as evidenced by his 24 points and a nice pass to Courtney Lee for a three-pointer that made it 91-90 with 10 seconds remaining. But Demar Derozan had other plans, hitting an 18-footer over Derrick Rose to help the Raptors escape the Garden with a 92-91 victory.
We’ve seen games like this countless times throughout the season. The Knicks played strong defense early and had a 53-40 halftime lead. But in the second half, they struggled to deal with the Raptor’s aggressive defense and settled too much for contested jumpers. Still, they had a chance to win it at the buzzer with Melo’s open three-pointer clanking.
The Knicks are 24-36, five games out the playoffs, and have the eighth-worst record in the NBA. This team has shown zero consistency the entire year and don’t need to start now. The long-term health of the team rests on getting the highest draft pick possible this summer.
What happens when you face the statistically worst defense in the league? You drop 123 points on their head. But what also happens with your defense is equally as trash? You still lose because you gave up 131 points at home! The Knicks continue to be the laughingstock of the league with another L to fall 11 games under .500.
Coach Hornacek is at his wit’s end and let the starters have it to start his post-game interview.
Couldn’t guard anybody. Simple as that. They should be embarrassed by the way they couldn’t guard anybody… So those guys are happy scoring their points. We’re going to lose every game.
The venom was warranted. The Nuggets at one point late in the first quarter were shooting 75% and finished 6/11 from three-point range. Luckily, the Knicks were on their own shooting barrage and were only down 2 (34-32) to start the second quarter.
The Knicks played their best ball last night with the second unit, who pushed the pace and attacked the Nuggets defense in transition. Kyle O’Quinn (16 points on 8/9, 4 blocks) got after it on both ends. Willy Hernangomez (12 points) showed great hands catching needle-thread passes from Brandon Jennings (6 points, 13 assists) on fast breaks.
But it would all go to hell once the starters returned. A 12-point second quarter lead evaporated via an 11-3 Nuggets run and the Knicks, despite scoring 66 POINTS, could only settle for a two-point halftime lead.
YOU CAN’T OUTSCORE BAD DEFENSE: The second half was just an abomination on the defensive end. Kristaps Porzingis, starting his first game as a center, got a somber wake-up call from Nikola Jokic, who lit him and the rest of the Knicks bigs up for a career-high 40 points. It wasn’t just points — KP was getting rag-dolled in there when it came to rebounding. He’s simply not strong enough yet to bang consistently in the paint. Still, I agree with Hornacek that KP’s lack of physicality doesn’t excuse everything that happened last night.
With the length, it should help, he should be quicker than that guy. He should be able to get up on him. He might get overpowered at some point but a lot of (Jokic’s) shots, he just lined ’em up. Spun the ball around with the seams and just shot it in. If our guys think that’s a challenged shot, we need to redefine what that is.
WHEN 21 POINTS IN 12 MINUTES AIN’T ENOUGH: Carmelo Anthony, being the quintessential scorer that he is, thought he could shoot us back into it. He went 8/8 in the fourth quarter with 4 three-pointers, including several that got the deficit back in single digits. But it was all for naught since the Knicks couldn’t get stops. One late back-breaking sequence saw the Knicks give up a four-point play after Melo had cut the deficit to six.
Tonight it was bad. As players we’ve got to take that upon ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for that and we have to do better. We have to do better on the defensive end.
The Knicks will remain home for a national afternoon game against the Spurs on Sunday (February 12).
Last game, the Knicks were rightly trashed for a despicable effort against the Lakers. Tonight, the effort was there, but a few miscues in the final four minutes allowed the Clippers sans Chris Paul to pull out an 119-115 at Madison Square Garden.
Yes, outside of Charles Oakley’s arrest there was an exciting game that took place.
BIG THREE LOCKED IN: This was one of the rare times that Melo, Rose and KP all played well. All three scored 20 or more and shot at least 50%. Melo lead the way with 28 points and 9 boards. At times, he was engaged in an intense duel with Blake Griffin, who had a first quarter rampage with 18 points and finished with 32. Melo kept his heat-check shots to a minimum and played well in the flow of the offense.
What I liked most about his game is he got to the rim and in most cases finished, got fouled or kicked out. The 1 assist doesn’t reflect it, but he had a few hockey assists and it kept everyone involved.
We got our best game since D-Rose’s return with 20 points, 7 boards and 8 assists on 63% shooting. The most surprising thing about it was he did a lot of his damage on mid-range jumpers from all over the court. That was pivotal in keeping the floor spaced as the defense couldn’t pack the paint for his drives. And for the first time in what feels like ages, you saw Rose actively looking to pass to KP and others.
Looking to keep Porzingis involved did wonders for the kid’s confidence. He didn’t feel the need to defer to the vets and attacked the Clippers defense from the perimeter and inside with cuts to the rim. The three-pointer was there (4/7) and he finished with 27 points, 6 boards and 2 steals. The two glaring issues were the unwise personal fouls (5) and being unable to keep Deandre Jordan off the boards.
KP didn’t foul out, so in a twisted way that can be seen as progress. But if we had him for the stretches he had to sit, the game might have turned out differently. As for getting muscled in the paint by Jordan, that is something that only time can correct. However, it’s a good indicator that we are still a few years away before KP can consistently battle at the center position.
DEFENSE AND BENCH: So as good as the Big Three played, how did we lose? First, the defense simply couldn’t sustain their energy and focus. After outscoring the Clippers 95-88 over the first three quarters, the Clippers stormed back to outscore the Knicks 31-20 over the final 12 minutes. Former Knick Jamal Crawford burned us for 20 points (nine in the fourth) off the bench and even Deandre Jordan hit four straight free throws.
The other area that killed us was a lack of bench scoring. In recent games, we could count on a great showing from some combination of Jennings, O’Quinn, Holiday or Hernangomez. But last night they were overwhelmed and outscored 36-18. The highest Knicks bench contributors were Hernangomez and Holiday, who scored 5 points apiece on a combined 2/9 shooting.
The Knicks are home again on Friday to face the Nuggets.
If you were expecting Phil Jackson to break his media silence with a professional press conference, think again. The Knicks president took to Twitter to take a thinly veiled shot at Carmelo Anthony and gave further fuel to the chaotic atmosphere that has become the Knicks since Melo hit the trading block.
The tweet centers around Jackson’s response to a highly critical article from Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding that questioned Melo’s will to win and alleged infatuation with the spotlight. Phil gave his seal of approval while comparing Melo’s shortcomings to 80s CBA journeyman named Michael Graham.
Bleacher’s Ding almost rings the bell, but I learned you don’t change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.
Graham played on the 1984 champion Georgetown Hoyas. His academic career was mired by off the court issues. Graham was drafted by the Supersonics but failed to make the final roster. He played four years in the CBA averaging 7.8 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Yeah, this is the player Phil Jackson is comparing his star athlete to.
Never in a million years did I think Phil Jackson could turn the Knicks into a bigger joke than what we saw in the Isiah Thomas years. We have a toxic atmosphere where neither the players nor the coaches know what’s going on. Every day they’re out there trying to make sense of the rumors being leaked from Phil’s office or his minions in the media. It is clearly a major factor in the team’s recent tepid play, including last night’s debacle at home against the Lakers.
So what does Jackson do as our leader? Trashes the player he’s allegedly trying to get teams interested in trading for. It remains to be seen if this disrespect is enough to get Melo to trade his no-trade clause and essentially get ran out of town. And we wonder why most elite free agents have no interest in joining this mess.
Getting blown out by the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers is one thing. Tonight, the Knicks proved themselves hopeless as they began an important four-game stretch by getting outhustled and pushed around by a struggling Lakers team to lose 121-107 at Madison Square Garden. The boos weren’t reserved for Melo this evening since it was the entire team that embarrassed themselves.
NO DEFENSE: The Knicks found themselves in a 10-point hole after the first quarter (19-29) by giving up 5 three-pointers and shooting just 37%. Things got no better in the second as Lou Williams abused our guards on the perimeter and Julius Randle feasted on the paint.
The Knicks went down by as much as 27 points in the first half. In the third, a few runs got it to 14, but the horrid defense prevented New York from getting any closer. The Lakers obliterated the Knicks in the paint 64-38 mostly off of PNR, back-door cuts and second chance buckets.
MELO A MAN ALONE: Because the entire team lacked effort, the MSG crowd couldn’t focus their venom on Melo. He didn’t give them much reason to being the sole Knick that shot well. Going 10/17 from the field, Melo finished with 26 points and 5 assists. Outside of his usual defensive lapses, Melo’s only other bad area was tallying 4 turnovers.
ROSE RUSTY, PORZINGIS OUT OF SORTS: Derrick Rose’s first game back from a badly sprained ankle is what you’d expect. He was completely out of rhythm over his 32 minutes, going 2/8 (5 points), having 3 turnovers and only 3 assists.
Kristaps Porzingis had no excuse. After a strong finish to the Nets game, he started 0/6 from the field and had just 1 point at halftime. He picked it up over the second half and finished with 16 points despite shooting 5/14. The rebounding was ok, but too often he got beat on simple PNR plays. For positives, he nearly had a double double with 9 boards and was not in foul trouble for a change (2 personals). I don’t buy the
I don’t buy the sore Achilles excuse; right now it’s all mental with KP.
BENCH POSITIVES: Everyone sucked defensively, but the bench had their moments. Brandon Jennings’s streaking shooting was pivotal in every run. He tried to push the pace, got to the line 7 times, and dished out 5 assists. Justin Holiday was 3/5 from downtown and finished with 14 points. And Willy Hernangomez in 24 minutes gave another example of why he should be starting with 8 points and 13 boards.
The Knicks are back at home Wednesday, February 8 to face the Clippers on ESPN.