Getty Images

Derrick Rose says coach Jeff Hornacek “has to be on us hard about defense every day”

6 Comments

The Knicks defense is bad. Everyone knows it. The only way it could get more attention is if Donald Trump tweeted about it. The Knicks are 25th in the NBA for the season defensively, allowing 107.7 points per 100 possessions. They actually do okay defending shots (teams shoot 50.5 percent eFG%, which is middle of the NBA pack) but they don’t force turnovers, are the third worst defensive rebounding team in the league and allow 14.6 second chance points a game to opponents, plus they are bottom 10 in things such as points allowed in the paint or points given up off turnovers.

The Knicks know it’s their problem, too.

Derrick Rose — who has had his strained relationship with coach Jeff Hornacek of late — wants the Knicks coach to push them harder on that end. Here’s what Rose said, via Al Iannazzone of Newsday.

“We were just talking about defensive schemes, what I see with our defense, what he thinks our problems are,” Rose said. “I just told him, it’s defense. Our defense triggers a lot of things. And I told him he has to be on us hard about defense every day. Like, beat it in our heads where we get tired of hearing him talking about it.”

“It’s not just one element,” Rose said. “It’s all of it — effort, schemes, decision-making, personnel, communication. It’s everything.

“You can tell when we’re out there. You have some games where we have everything clicking. It’s no middle ground with us. It’s either we look good, or we look quite different than that. I wanted to say another word, but quite different than that. We got to have an in-between. Then right when we’re slipping, we got to be able to let everybody be aware of that and try to fix it — not after the game, but during the game.”

I like that Rose is stepping up to be a leader on this issue. If you’re thinking about Rose going AWOL and that impacting his credibility, know that he is still respected in that locker room.

The Knicks turned their defense over to Kurt Rambis early in the season, and Rambis is a lot of things but defensive coach like Tom Thibodeau — who Rose has spent most of his career with — he is not. The Knicks are not getting better on that end, the overall defensive numbers the past 10 games mirror the season numbers (they are ranked higher because other teams slipped below them).

Those defensive issues for New York start with Rose, who has been solid navigating the pick-and-roll and sticking with his man, but once rotations kick in he floats and gets lost. Pair Rose with Carmelo Anthony (never a great defender) and the Knicks allow 109.1 points per 100 possessions. But Hornacek needs to play those two together.

The Knicks did hold the Sixers and Bulls under 100 points recently, and although there were mitigating circumstances there, maybe it is something they can build upon. Amazingly, New York is just two games out of the playoffs in the East, and if they could solidify that end of the court, maybe they could climb in.

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

Getty Images
3 Comments

Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

1 Comment

This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

Leave a comment

In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.