Steve Novak

Steve Novak disappointed in last season’s playoff benching while playing for Knicks


The Knicks were in Toronto for a preseason game against the Raptors on Friday, so all eyes were on the players involved in the trade that went down between the teams this summer.

Andrea Bargnani leaving Toronto was the biggest part of the deal, considering his status as a former number one overall draft pick along with the albatross-like standing he had as the face of Raptors failure over the last several seasons.

But one of the former Knicks who was sent to Toronto in the trade had a more interesting story to tell about the way he was (or more appropriately, wasn’t) used in New York’s second round playoff loss to the Pacers last season.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Former Knicks 3-point sniper Steve Novak admitted Friday he was very disappointed in Mike Woodson for not using him in the second round of the playoffs against the Pacers after he returned healthy from a sore back.

“Me and Mike were very open about it.,’’ Novak said after Friday’s morning shootaround at the Air Canada Centre before the Knicks face Toronto in a preseason game. “It wasn’t like a rift. Obviously he knew the whole time I wanted to play. I told him when I got healthy. I made sure I went up to him and said, ‘Listen, I’m 100 percent. Don’ t not play me because I’m hurt. I’m ready.’ ’’

Woodson responded, and agreed with Novak that there were no hard feelings. He said the decision was solely based on defensive strategy.

“That’s what coaches do,’’ Woodson said. “We change up and do certain things. In the playoffs, it’s strictly defense. I just went in another direction. It wasn’t anything Novak did. We wish him nothing but the best here.’’

The back injury that Novak suffered in the first round against the Celtics seemed like a fine excuse for the lineup adjustment, and it’s true — the Knicks could have used more shooters in that series against the Pacers.

The reality, however, is that Novak played the role of a specialist all season long, and was up and down in terms of his contributions, which were dependent largely upon how opposing defenses chose to play. Novak was inconsistent at best, and if Woodson didn’t feel like he could count on him on one end of the floor and knew he was essentially useless on the other, then despite the loss, he probably made the right decision.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.