Since Andrea Bargnani tore the ulnar nerve in his left elbow ending his season, the New York Knicks have gone 18-18 — not great, but that would make the playoffs in the East at least. This season the Knicks offense is a whopping 6.5 points per 100 possessions better when Bargnani is out of the game, while the defense remains almost flat (+.2 per 100 without him). When Bargnani is in street clothes the Knicks outscore opponents by +.5 per 100 (close to even, fitting their .500 record without him), with him they are -6.2 per 100.
Yet like Will Ferrell with a cowbell, Knicks coach Mike Woodson thinks the Knicks needed more of him.
Sorry Knicks fans, I wish I were making this up, but Woodson’s love of a tall lineup — which pushed Carmelo Anthony to the three when both statistics and the eye test tell you his is better at the four — has not gone away. Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal posted this tweet about Bargnani that frustrated Knicks fans all over twitter Friday:
The good news Knicks fans is that Woodson is gone soon. Whatever changes Phil Jackson has in store, Woodson is not part of the future.
Woodson loved Bargnani’s size — a seven footer who shoots threes — and the Italian averaged 13.3 points a game for the Knicks. However, Bargnani has an aversion to rebounding and his help defense is non-existent, which led to all kinds of issues. All that for just $11.9 million this season! What a deal!
Woodson seemed to love the idea of Bargnani, Anthony and Tyson Chandler together and injuries limited that trio to just 189 minutes together this season — but in those minutes the Knicks were outscored by 11.2 points per 100 possessions. The offense stumbled and the defense allowed 114.9 points per 100, 8 more than the team average this season.
Bargnani is Phil Jackson’s problem now. Bargnani is owed $11.5 million next season and while Jackson may want to try to trade him (or Amar’e Stoudemire) expiring contracts are not worth as much in the new CBA as they were before. There will be little to no market for Bargnani (who is represented by CAA, by the way).
Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.
Raptors media relations:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.
Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.
The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.
Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.
The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.
They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).
Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.
The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.
Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.
The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – one of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.
Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.
Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.
“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”
The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.
I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.
Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.
Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.
A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.
Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.