San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns

Report: Knicks will target Steve Nash next summer


The Knicks need a point guard. I know it, you know it, anyone who has watched 20 seconds of a Knicks game knows it.

Their front office knows it, too. Getting a quality one this season via trade is unlikely (hence the hope that Baron Davis can be the man), so they are looking at next summer when they can offer their $5 million mid-level exception. And they have some targets lined up, according to the New York Post.

That’s why The Post has reported the Knicks plan to target Nash (along with Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton) with this summer’s $5 million mid-level exception.

Nash is obviously the big name and you can reunite the once-fun Suns in Madison Square Garden (which kind of happens tonight when the Suns come to town). Now, $5 million a year might be less than Nash and Nelson can make elsewhere, but Nash in particular may be willing to take less to play in New York for Mike D’Antoni. One question for the Knicks is do they want the savvier but much older Nash or a not-as-good but younger and less prone to injury guy like Felton?

But that’s not the big question. Rather, “what kind of team are they trying to build?” is the big one.

They brought in Mike D’Antoni to play his “seven seconds or less” style that was entertaining and won a lot of games in Phoenix, then they proceeded to build a roster that poorly fit that style. Clearly Amar’e Stoudemire can work in it, but the only good point guard New York had was Felton, who was traded to bring in Carmelo Anthony.

Now there are whispers that D’Antoni will be gone when his contract is up after this season. If you do that, what kind of team are you trying to build? Your choice of a point guard needs to reflect that style.

When you build a team style it’s less about the stars and more about getting role players who fit with those stars and system. Kobe Bryant is going to be good whatever the system, but what the Lakers did well for years was finding players who fit well in the triangle offense to go around him. The Suns did the same thing around Nash and Stoudemire in Phoenix. You see it in San Antonio and Oklahoma City — it’s not just a random collection of talent. The Knicks have not followed that model.

The Knicks need a point guard to organize the offense. Any of the three guys mentioned above is a big upgrade. From there, if they stick with D’Antoni, Tyson Chandler works in the paint and on the pick-and-roll, but they need athletic role players who can run the floor like the wind and knock down threes. If they go a different coaching direction then they need to think about what point guard works well, what other role players would fit better. There is a lot of work to do on this roster. But they need a steady direction, first.

D’Antoni says Rockets’ Patrick Beverley to miss about 20 games

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18:  Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets walks to the bench during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  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.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Patrick Beverley is going to have a key role with the Rockets — he is their best defending guard. And it’s not close. He can help space the floor as a three-point shooter, he can work off the ball on offense and serve as a backup playmaker, but mostly what he brings is fearless, physical defense.

Except he’s not going to bring it for a while.

Following rumors he might knee surgery comes this from Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects guard Pat Beverley to miss at least 20 games with a left knee injury. His absence “complicates” some roster spots.

The Rockets are going to have one of the best offenses in the NBA but whether they finish fourth or seventh or out of the playoffs completely in the West will come down to a combination of health and how well they defend. This is a setback on both counts.

Expect to see more Eric Gordon, Tyler Ennis, and P.J. Hairston. Gordon has a real chance here. This is going to be an interesting year in Houston.

Jimmy Butler shrugs off idea he’s a “diva”

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler goes up for a dunk past Charlotte Hornets' Marvin Williams during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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The Chicago Bulls traded Derrick Rose to New York, in hopes that the locker room, “whose team is this?” drama would head East with him. This is Jimmy Butler‘s team, with Dwyane Wade now assisting.

But the drama isn’t gone yet.

On their way out the door, the camps around Rose and Joakim Noah tried to paint Butler as a Diva who was the real problem. When Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Butler about it, he basically laughed off the idea.

“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that,’’ Butler said before Thursday’s 97-81 loss to Atlanta in their final preseason game. “My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.

“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.’’

Rose and Noah thought Butler tried to jump the line to be the leader of the team, which they saw as still their right as the veterans. Butler didn’t care what they thought then, he certainly doesn’t now.

What matters more, Nicola Mirotic and Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis don’t care, and they are the guys still there.

Who will finish with the better record, Bulls or Knicks, is one of my favorite subplots of the NBA season.

Spurs Danny Green has strained quadricep, out three weeks

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: Fans celebrate a three with Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. 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. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.

But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.

This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.

Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).

It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.

PBT Extra: Who wins MVP, other NBA end-of-season awards?

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The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.

Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.

In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.