Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Andrea Bargnani has “no idea” when he can return to Knicks. Andrea, there’s no rush.


When Andrea Bargnani tore a ligament in his elbow it was a blessing in disguise for the Knicks (and not that good a disguise, we and everyone else on the planet called it) — Mike Woodson could no longer try to force feed a big lineup that wasn’t working, he had to go small with Carmelo Anthony at the four and guards who could space the floor with their shot.

The Knicks have won four straight. Stunning.

So when is Andrea Bargnani going to be back? He told the New York Post he has he doesn’t know.

“I have no idea [on a return date],’’ Bargnani said. “It’s a ligament broke and you see how it heals and how strong the arm gets. You got to make sure it’s 100 percent. I really don’t know the timeline…

“It’s terrible, just terrible but what can you do,’’ said Bargnani, who was the Knick second-leading scorer at 13.7 points. “Because it’s similar to last year, it’s even more frustrating. It’s terrible sitting out — the worst.’’

Bargnani is not having surgery, the guestimates are he will be out a month but nobody really knows.

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There’s no rush Andrea, take your time.

The scary thing is Woodson sounds like he might experiment with the big lineup again — with Tyson Chandler at the five, Bargnani at the four and ‘Melo at the three — once Bargnani gets back.

“The small lineup, we know that that works,’’ Woodson said. “Hey I don’t know if we’ll go away from it this time….

“I know big lineups and like Bargnani at that spot,’’ Woodson said. “That was the reason to bring him over [from Toronto]. But we haven’t had that chance to have that core group develop some chemistry. We haven’t had a chance to do that.’’

Actually, we have. In the 189 minutes that the Anthony/Bargnani/Chandler trio are on the court together the Knicks are -11.2 points per 100 possessions (if you prefer, they are -8.1 per 48 minutes). The Knicks defense gives up a ridiculous 114.3 points per 100 possessions when those three are paired. And to make it even simpler, when Anthony plays the four by himself the Knicks are 9.5 points per 100 possessions better than when ‘Melo and Bargnani are paired.

Bargnani, don’t rush back. Woodson, when he is back, stick with the small lineup that works. Thanks for listening.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.