The New York Knicks have the best offense in the NBA right now, scoring 111.5 points per 100 possessions — they are shooting the ball well and turning it over on fewer possessions than any other team in the Association.
And they are doing it all with Carmelo Anthony playing the four. The power forward spot. What had been Amare Stoudemire’s spot.
So what happens when Stoudemire returns in December from knee surgery and pushes ‘Melo out to the wing again? One idea — one coach Mike Woodson doesn’t seem to like — is to bring Stoudemire off the bench. And he is good with that, reports ESPNNewYork.com.
“All he cares about right now is helping the team and winning,” said one source, who has been around Stoudemire regularly in recent weeks. “He’d be fine with coming off the bench if that’s what they want….
“He just wants to win,” the source says. “He sees how well they’re playing and just wants to help. He’ll be fine with whatever they want to do.”
My guess is that Woodson will eventually bend to this logic and will bring Stoudemire off the bench.
But this really doesn’t solve the problem — Anthony and Stoudemire are going to have to share the court at some point. The Spurs had success bringing Manu Ginobili off the bench but come the fourth quarter Ginobili was out there on the court with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
If the Knicks are going to be true title contenders they have to find a way to play well when Stoudemire, Anthony and Tyson Chandler are all on the court together. Bringing Stoudemire off the bench is a way to avoid dealing with the problem in the first quarter, but the fourth quarter question is still there. And still has to be answered.
Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball
Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.
The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.
Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.
The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.
We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.
The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.
The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.
Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.
The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.
However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.
“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”
This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.
Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.
Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.