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.
Knicks owner James Dolan has reportedly cooled talks with the Toronto Raptors regarding a potential trade for Kyle Lowry.
According to the NY Post, Dolan’s decision was influenced by the fact terms of the potential deal leaked. Per unnamed industry sources, the trade would have required the Knicks to give up Raymond Felton, Metta World Peace, either Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr., or a 2018 first round pick to make the deal.
Dolan was not keen on giving up the pick and has preference to keep rookie Hardaway. Dolan and Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri previously worked together in 2010 when Ujiri, then GM of the Denver Nuggets, worked out a trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Felton, $3 million in cash, plus a 2014 first-round pick and two second-round picks.
“Dolan didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai,” an unnamed Knicks source to the Post about Dolan’s reluctance. “They had a deal ready.”
At press time, the Knicks still may reconsider the trade as rivals the Brooklyn Nets are also in the running.
Dolan showing restraint?!!! I’m shocked. As much as we desperately need stability at the point guard position, that is definitely way too much to give up. The Raptors are trying to clear space and tank for next year’s loaded draft, so it’s not like they are in a big position of power. Metta just got here and we’re already thin in our frontcourt. Even with him currently out the rotation, his toughness comes in handy when we’re matched with bruising frontcourts. Hardaway Jr. is damn near our only guard that can shoot so it’d be idiotic to move him as well.
Even though this “restraint” is squarely due to Dolan’s bruised ego about the whisperings on how the Melo trade went down, we’ll take it if it means not throwing away another pick nor trading young players with growth potential.
Let our little brothers in Brooklyn take this on if they want to blink first. In the meantime, free Toure Murray at point guard and let him split time with Prigioni.
A lineup of third-string Knicks played hard, but not consistently enough in the areas of defense and rebouding to defeat the Raptors, who used an overtime third-pointer from Terrence Ross (27 points) to force a second overtime period and win 123-120.
Our starters did their part in limited minutes. While Carmeolo Anthony didn’t shoot well (4-13, 9 points), he looked to distribute and took care of the glass in grabbing 8 rebounds. Andrea Bargnani’s shot wasn’t there either (4-12), but he was active in drawing fouls (5-7 at the line) and finished with 13 points. Tyson Chandler hit a few jumpers and was energetic around the rim in his 19 minutes, finishing with 15 points and 7 free throw attempts.
With Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert resting, heavy minutes went to Tim Hardaway Jr. and Beno Udrih. Junior’s (4-16, 15 points) shot was erratic, but he never shied away from taking them and got some good looks. Udrih had a very solid game outside of some head-scratching turnovers (4). He finished with 19 points, including a big three-pointer to help force the second overtime.
As we’ve seen over the last few games, Ike Diogu (10 points, 7 rebounds) and Toure Murry (12 points, 5 rebounds) came to play hard and continued their cases for making the team.
The big highlight of the game was Metta World Peace and it wasn’t his excellent stat line (16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists). Tyler Hansbrough tried to dirty up the game as usual and Peace was having none of it. Hansbrough looked like he’d seen a ghost and backed down immediately. In past years, Hansbrough has been one of those guys that’s abused our frontcourt players. Glad to see this season we’ll see none of that when Metta goes into Artest mode.
There was a lot left be desired on the perimeter defense with Ross dropping 27 off the bench and Rudy Gay (19 points) and Demar Derozan (21) also taking advantage of our slow rotations. Rebounding, which will likely again be our weakest area this season, proved to be our downfall as Ross was able to get two looks at a three-pointer that forced the second overtime. However, keep in mind the lineups that were out there and the bigger importance in having all of our main guys healthy to start the year.
Only two pre-season games are left with NY facing the Bucks on Wednesday, and the Bobcats on Friday.
With crosstown and division rivals the Brooklyn Nets shaking up their core with the acquisitions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the New York Knicks made their first big move of the off-season in trading veterans Steve Novak and Marcus Camby to the Toronto Raptors for their much-maligned center/foward hybrid Andrea Bargnani.
My initial reaction was one of disgust. After last season, where we saw literally every big on the roster fall due to nagging injuries, the last thing the squad needed was another injury-plagued 7-footer. And in Bargnani’s case, why pick up a big man who doesn’t rebound well (averaging just four over his seven-year career) and is coming off his worst year last season? Bargnani played just 35 games due to season-ending elbow surgery.
But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. Make no mistake, I’m not happy, but Bargnani can’t be any worse than what we got from Novak and Camby last year. Novak’s shooting went down and defensively he was a huge liability on every play. Camby couldn’t stay healthy for any stretch of the season to justify the multi-year contract he was sitting on. It remains to be seen if Bargnani can remain healthy, but at least we get a guy who can space the floor and create his own shot (that’s huge in preventing the offensive stagnation that plagued the team). And while his contract ugly at first glance ($23 million over the next two years), Bargnani be off the books like everyone else in 2015 when the Knicks can blow up the team if needed.
The Raptors will also get Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first round pick, and two second rounders (2014, 2017). It’s an ok deal, but only if Bargnani can be reliable enough to contribute 12-15 points a night. It would seem like a given based on his career, but we all know players all of a sudden like to turn into complete trash when they come to New York.
Will the change to a winning culture and a no-nonsense coach make Bargnani a valued contributor and a crowd favorite in New York City? Us Knicks fans can only hope so (and pray this isn’t the last big off-season move from NY…).