Report: Knicks veterans expressing frustration with defensive scheme

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The Knicks ranked last in the NBA, allowing, 110.9 points per 100 possessions through six games, when they put assistant coach Kurt Rambis in charge of defense. New York has allowed 107.7 points per 100 possessions, the equivalent of 25th, since.

Apparently, that climb from horrendous to ordinarily bad hasn’t satisfied some players ā€“ and they’re pointing fingers.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

Some veterans have begun to privately express frustration over the club’s defensive schemes, per sources. The defense is led by associate head coach Kurt Rambis and entered play Tuesday ranked 27th in defensive efficiency.

Surely, the coaches designing those defensive schemes would say the disgruntled veterans could give better effort on that end of the floor. And so it goes.

Carmelo Anthony didn’t sound eager to embrace Rambis in the first place. Dropping nine of 10 doesn’t put most people in the mood for productive cooperation. Losing usually exacerbates these problems.

The Knicks’ defense has actually looked less discombobulated under Rambis, though it was due for regression to the mean after just six games anyway. Still, the Knicks foul too much without actually forcing turnovers or grabbing defensive rebounds. They’re physical when already beat, not when it can make a positive impact.

New York’sĀ  fundamental issue defensively is personnel, which falls on Phil Jackson. Derrick Rose is a defensive minus at the point of attack. Anthony usually cares little about that end. Joakim Noah is a shell of his former self.

Could the schemes improve? Yes. Could the effort improve? Yes. But as long as the roster stays the same, the defensive upside is limited. There’s only so much blame for the players and coaches to place on each other while Jackson looks down from on high.

Shabazz Muhammad awkwardly mentions Collective Bargaining Agreement during halftime interview (video)

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The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.

Muhammad:

We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective ā€“ Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Um. What?

To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation ā€“ let alone something that qualifies as both.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.

hat tip: reddit user cjsplash

Duke’s Jayson Tatum, California’s Ivan Rabb declare for NBA draft

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Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.

As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.

Duke announced Tatum’s decision.

Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?

Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.

PBT Extra: What coaches are on hot seat? Alvin Gentry at front of list.

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This season, for the first time in 46 years, no NBA coach will be fired during the season (nobody is getting canned at this point).

However, once the off-season starts, there will be a few changes.

Alvin Gentry in New Orleans and Fred Hoiberg in Chicago are the names most mentioned, but there will be an unexpected firing somewhere around the league. Some GMs are on the hot seat also (Rob Hennigan in Orlando leads that parade).

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, Bulls’ Robin Lopez each suspended one game for thrown punches

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It was obvious this was coming. Get in a shoving match “fight” in the NBA and you get a fine. However, actually throw punches and…

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez each have been suspended for one game by the NBA “for throwing punches at one another during an altercation,” the league announced. What that works out to is a $120,715 hit for Lopez and a $111,364 ding for Ibaka.

Also, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire earned a $15,000 fine shoving the Bulls Nikola Mirotic and “acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.”

This all came out of what seemed a rather innocuous play. Ibaka and Lopez were battling for rebounding positioning, it went on for a second after the ball went through the hoop, Ibaka caught Lopez with a little chicken wing elbow in the back, Lopez spun, and, boy, that escalated quickly. Lopez’s punch missed, while Ibaka’s caught Lopez in the hair more than the body.

Both men got technicals and were ejected.