Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

Knicks still suck, and Stoudemire doesn’t like it

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The New York Knicks are 3-7 and dropped five in a row now. Including to Minnesota and a previously struggling Rockets team in the last two.

Knicks fans booed the home team Sunday after their latest loss. Amar’e Stoudemire told ESPNNewYork that he didn’t like that.

“It’s definitely something that I’m not accustomed to. It’s not fun,” Stoudemire said after the Knicks lost, 104-96, to a Houston Rockets team that came into town with just two wins. “We’re a young team and we make mistakes but we can’t keep doing the exact same thing every night. We just gotta find a way to grow up….”

“I don’t understand why we’re not playing with the urgency. I’m not used to that,” the Knicks’ $100 million man said. “We’re not playing like we’re on a four-game losing streak, now five. We don’t have that sense of urgency. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter and it’s not something I’m used to.”

“We just can’t have guys complacent and comfortable with losing,” Stoudemire, said with a look of pure frustration on his face. “I can’t stand that. It’s more attitude. It’s more heart. We have to show more heart and go after it.”

We’re quick to criticize fans for booing for no good reason, except Knicks fans actually have some reason. They were sold on hope — questionable, false hope but hope — and that has turned out not to be the case.

Shockingly, the problem is the Knicks offense — they are currently 25th in the NBA at 103.2 points per 100 possessions. And that is where the hope has failed.

The Knicks were going to take a step forward this year not just because of Stoudemire but because Danilo Gallinari was going to take a step forward — he hasn’t, he’s regressed, he’s shooting 36 percent overall, 32 percent from three, both down about 60 points from last year. He’s getting to the line more, he’s turning the ball over less, but at the end of the day he gets paid to knock down shots and he hasn’t.

But it’s not just Gallinari — Wilson Chandler is shooting 29.4 percent from three, Toney Douglas 28.8 percent from deep. Mike D’Antoni’s offense doesn’t work if the team is not shooting from three, and as a team the Knicks are shooting a sad 32.5 percent (25th in the league).

Add to all this that Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov have not lived up to the hype, and you have a Knicks team that is not doing well on offense. (To be fair, Mozgov made his name in Europe as a pick-and-roll guy and Raymond Felton never gets him the ball in that situation, as Alan Hahn of Newsday has pointed out.) Somebody needs to start knocking down shots, and if it isn’t one of the guys on the roster, then Donnie Walsh needs to get somebody. The outside shots have to fall.

Report: 76ers sat Jahlil Okafor because they were close to Trail Blazers trade

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 26: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers controls the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center on October 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Thunder defeated the 76ers 103-97. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The 76ers sat Jahlil Okafor for two games last week, openly acknowledging they were discussing trading him. Then, they played him in their final game before the All-Star break.

That prompted speculation that no deal fell through, but that Philadelphia was bluffing being close in order to drum up interest.

But maybe there actually was a near-trade.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

On the surface, this makes sense. We know the Trail Blazers were interested in a cost-controlled center, because they traded for Jusuf Nurkic.

But that trade also makes Portland perfect cover if the 76ers are just trying to deflect from a gambit gone wrong. Not only were the Trail Blazers plausible trade partners, they already made their deal. So, there will be no questions about revisiting discussions.

Locker room drama? Player recruitment? Paul Millsap, does that go on All-Star weekend? “Rarely ever”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 17:  Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks speaks with the media during media availability for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans on February 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS — Russell Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant spreading tension throughout the locker room. Players trying to convince Carmelo Anthony he should agree to a trade to their city. Players coming up and trying to recruit free agents to be this summer like the Hawks’ Paul Millsap.

It’s how some fans picture it is inside All-Star weekend locker rooms, all sorts of palace intrigue playing out like a soap opera.

“Rarely ever,” Millsap said of these kinds of things coming up. “For us, we get away from regular season basketball. It’s not about our respective teams, it’s about what’s going on now. You may share some stories, but we’re not talking about (regular season drama).”

Fans can be deeply invested in what happens during the regular season — heck, Eric Gordon heard boos from frustrated Pelicans fans before he won the Three-Point Contest Saturday.

But for the players, it’s a vacation. A chance to get away from all that drama.

“No, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter at all,” Millsap said of the regular season minutia that can dominate the league. “Once you get down here we’re all teammates. That’s how guys treat it. To get here, we’re enemies, but while we’re here everybody’s teammates and are fun to have in the locker room. It’s just a good time.”

They’re more likely to talk about the parties around town.

“Some,” Millsap said with a laugh. “But it’s just more general conversation, almost nothing about the season.”

Most of the recruitment comes in the summer, and most via text. Some players don’t like each other, just like nearly everyone reading this has someone at their office/job they don’t like working with (except me, all my bosses should be canonized they are such good people). Come the office Christmas Party, people put that aside and just get along. Same thing All-Star weekend for the players. Everyone just gets along and tries to enjoy the experience.

When play starts up again next week, the drama can return.

Draymond Green: ‘Shaqtin A Fool’ treats JaVale McGee unfairly

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) is greeted by forward JaVale McGee in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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NEW ORLEANS — JaVale McGee has fired off at Shaquille O’Neal about “Shaqtin A Fool,” TNT’s blooper segment. Now, the oft-mocked Warriors center has someone else sticking up for him.

“I think JaVale is unfairly treated on Shaqtin,” Golden State forward Draymond Green said. “This year has given me a little different outlook on it.

“I just think there’s some stuff that goes on there about JaVale that really shouldn’t be on there. But, because it’s JaVale…”

That is true. McGee goofs that wouldn’t register if they were by other players make Shaqtin. But McGee still produce plenty of worthy candidates.

And it’s not as if Green is completely turned off.

“I like the show,” Green said. “It’s funny as hell to me. But that aspect of it has kind of given me a little different view.”

PBT Extra: Despite Russell Westbrook’s triple-double pace, James Harden is MVP frontrunner

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The NBA’s MVP race is down to two men. Sure, you can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James, some even want to throw Isaiah Thomas in the mix, but the best any of them is going to do is down the ballot in the final three slots.

The top two are reserved for James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

In this PBT Extra, I discuss that while Westbrook is on pace for a historic season — averaging a triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists a game — it is Harden who is lifting his team to higher heights, and that very well could win the beard the award.