Amare Stoudemire is out, having lost his fight with a fire extinguisher in Miami.
Which has a number of Knicks faithful saying it is a blessing in disguise — Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were not working well together. The Knicks played some of their best ball this season with a small-ball lineup where Anthony was the four, now they can go back to it. After two games in Miami where it didn’t look like there were a lot of ways for New York to get back in this series, this change brings some hope.
Stoudemire’s absence will give the Knicks a new look, but better is up for debate. And it still doesn’t seem like enough.
Anthony is clearly more comfortable at the four, where he is a mismatch. According to 82Games.com, Anthony scores nearly 10 more points per 100 possessions at the four and his effective field goal percentage (which includes a bump for made threes) jumps from 42.7 at the three to 51.8 at the four. Or look at it this way, at the three his PER is a slightly above average 16.5, at the four it is an all-world 28.9.
Also, with Anthony at the four it frees up room for more of Tyson Chandler’s rolls to the hoop off a high pick, which is an effective weapon. It allows them to space the floor with Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.
Mike Woodson may try to go small against the Heat, but that’s where the loss of Iman Shumpert really hurts. Shumpert made the Knicks small ball lineup work because he could be a perimeter defender that worked, something Novak and Smith cannot do nearly as well.
The other problem here is the opponent — the Heat are the best small ball lineup in the league. LeBron can still cover ‘Melo at the four spot. Smith and Novak cannot handle Wade. Also, the Knicks still run a lot of isolation sets and the Heat were the best isolation defensive team in the league this season, holding teams to 33.7 percent shooting on those plays.
The Knicks clearly need a change in this series to have a chance, and Stoudemire being out brings them back closer to a lineup where they had a lot of success. It gives some hope.
It just won’t be enough.
Minnesota is one of the NBA’s best positioned up-and-coming teams. They have a franchise cornerstone in Karl-Anthony Towns, a quality No. 2 in Andrew Wiggins, maybe like Zach LaVine can blossom into an All-Star, and players such as Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica could be part of the picture. Maybe Ricky Rubio, too, although he’s further along his career arc. A lot of people look at this team and think around 2020, when the Warriors fade (or break apart), the Timberwolves can step up to elite.
Tom Thibodeau is apparently not willing to be that patient — he’s looking to get in the Paul George/Jimmy Butler talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Thibodeau helped develop Butler in Chicago and they have a great relationship, he certainly makes the Timberwolves better next season. Same with George, although he’s a rental who almost certainly bolts after the coming season
My question to the Timberwolves: Why?
What was wrong with the building trajectory they are on? I get it, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004, a ton of money was just sunk into upgrades at the Target Center, and the owner is not getting younger. Those are all non-basketball reasons to screw up what the basketball side is doing right. It’s the mistake of poor franchises to let that happen.
Could the Timberwolves use a point guard of the future, more depth on the wings and better defenders all around? You bet. But they don’t need to rush the development program either. If Minnesota can land Butler only giving up Rubio and a protected future first or something, sure, but the Bulls continue to ask a very high price for a deal.
Outside of personal feelings, why would the Timberwolves do that?
The Spurs trading LaMarcus Aldridge – they’re reportedly shopping him – could open enough cap space to sign Chris Paul.
But that isn’t the only reason San Antonio is trying to move Aldridge.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
According to a person with knowledge of the Spurs forward’s situation, it’s the 31-year-old’s unhappiness in San Antonio that is the driving force behind the Spurs’ trade talks on Thursday. The five-time All-Star, according to the person, is hopeful that San Antonio can find a better fit for his talents.
Rumors about the Spurs trading Aldridge emerged early in the season, as he was reportedly unhappy about Kawhi Leonard getting the spotlight. When Aldridge signed with San Antonio, it seemed Leonard could do the heavy lifting as the team’s best player and Aldridge could get outsized credit as the leading scorer. But Leonard has emerged as the go-to offensive player, pushing Aldridge into a supporting role both in reality and reputation. Gregg Popovich calling out Aldridge publicly during the playoffs surely didn’t improve relations.
Aldridge turns 32 this summer and will likely become a free agent after next season. Wanting to leave the Spurs – held up as the NBA’s best culture – will raise additional red flags.
San Antonio might not get as much as it hopes in a trade for Aldridge. If Chris Paul is coming, the Spurs wouldn’t need as much for Aldridge. But they won’t know about Paul until July.
San Antonio also values building a roster of players who’ve, as Popovich puts it, “gotten over themselves.” If that’s not Aldridge, the Spurs might not want to keep him around.
There are numerous factors to weigh and incomplete information, but this is the twisting road San Antonio is navigating.
Knicks president Phil Jackson’s asking price for Kristaps Porzingis is reportedly “massive.”
Just what does that mean?
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
According to a Knicks source, Jackson is asking for the third overall pick in Thursday’s draft as well as next year’s Brooklyn pick along with Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder. This version of the deal would not include Boston taking on Joakim Noah‘s contract.
All the Knicks fans who threatened to relinquish their fandom if the team traded Porzingis – most would love this deal.
Would the Celtics? I doubt it.
The question is whether there’s a middle ground between what New York wants and what Boston would do. It’s possible Jackson won’t budge and is just shopping Porzingis on the off chance someone accepts outlandish requests like these and to teach Porzingis a lesson for skipping his exit meeting.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.