Kurt Helin

Report: Knicks’ players not sold on Derek Fisher’s grasp of Xs and Os


Phil Jackson picked Derek Fisher to be the Knicks coach because he could sell the vision. This was a locker room leader, a former players’ union president, a guy respected around the league who the Knicks players would listen to — he could sell the culture change needed. And he could sell the triangle offense.

Sell it, sure, but how well does he know it?

Fisher played in the triangle for years, but some of the current Knicks’ players are not sold on his Xs and Os knowledge, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

According to a source, there’s a growing sense among some players in the locker room Fisher is viewed more as a “preacher’’ and “motivator’’ than an expert in-game tactician or Xs-and-Os master….

According to the source, Fisher’s assistant coaches, including Brian Keefe, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, are more versed in the strategic concepts. The source said Carmelo Anthony has come to Fisher recently to lobby for rookie Kristaps Porzingis to be more involved in the offense late in games to take the burden off him. Indeed, Porzingis had plays run for him down the stretch in Boston on Sunday.

Two thoughts.

First, is this a surprise?  Did anyone expect Fisher to be Rick Carlisle?

Second, it doesn’t matter. There are plenty of coaches in NBA history who were motivators or guys who could inspire first, then were Xs and Os guys second. That list starts with Phil Jackson himself, who was the best motivator and team builder the game has ever seen, but had Tex Winter — the inventor of the triangle offense — on the sidelines with him for a reason.

If you can get guys to buy into the system, it doesn’t matter if you are the master of that system, so long as someone on your staff is that guy. Jason Kidd is considered this kind of coach in Milwaukee, and there are others. Fisher and Kidd know the game, but they know people better. And in the NBA that’s a valuable skill.

Does Fisher lean on his veterans more than he should sometimes? Sure. So does every other NBA coach trying to win games now.

If the Knicks were winning more, this conversation would not be happening. But have a few losses in New York and the vultures always come out.

PBT Extra: Top five NBA moments of 2015

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You know the year of 2015 was a good one in the NBA when you try to put together a Top 5 list of moments and Chris Paul‘s runner to beat the Spurs in Game 7 — or Paul Pierce saying “I called game” — can’t crack the list.

Above I list out my Top 5 NBA moments of 2015. Just as a spoiler, I have the Warriors winning the title at No. 2, you can guess what is No. 1.

I just hope 2016 brings us as many thrills.

Mavs’ Rick Carlisle compares Stephen Curry to Steve Jobs

151213 curry

As I sit here writing out this post on my Macbook, I don’t think I need to describe how Steve Jobs helped shape the world we live in. Even if you’re on a Samsung phone and a Toshiba laptop, Jobs’ vision changed your online experience.

In the world of the NBA, Stephen Curry is reshaping things. The astute Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle drew the comparison to the Apple founder, via Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (hat tip to Hoopshype).

“You’ve just got to try to make it hard on him. But you’re talking a guy that it’s a little bit like what Steve Jobs has done to our every day life. He’s changed the way we live. He and Bill Gates have done that, Steph Curry is changing the way the game will be played in the future.”

And here I thought Mark Jackson said he was bad for the game.

I’ve started comparing Curry to Joe Montana in this sense: Montana was a great quarterback with unique gifts, but he was the perfect QB for Bill Walsh and his offense. He had the perfect players around him to make it all work. The right guy in the right place at the right time. Curry would be fantastic anywhere, but Steve Kerr — not Mark Jackson, Kerr — put him and the other Warriors in the perfect offense to take advantage of those skills.

And that is changing the game. Not every team can mimic what the Warriors are doing with small ball, and not every team should try. But a decade from now every team will use some of the philosophy and sets we’ve seen with the Warriors, and there will be great young players bringing some of what Curry showed them to the table.

Report: Knicks among teams interested in free agent Tony Wroten

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers waived Tony Wroten and made him a free agent so that they could sign Ish Smith (I don’t care if it’s Mike D’Antoni’s idea, it was a good one, he’s an upgrade for them).

Wroten is an athletic player who has worked hard on his game and improved, but remains a guy who struggles to knock down his shot — he is shooting 33.8 percent this season.

That doesn’t mean teams are not interested — including the Knicks. From Ian Begley of ESPN.

The Knicks are among several teams who’ve looked into the possibility of signing free agent guard Tony Wroten, league sources familiar with the team’s thinking say. The Knicks’ level of interest in Wroten, who was released by Philadelphia earlier this month, is unclear at this point. But sources say that the club has expressed interest in obtaining a guard via trade or free-agent signing in recent days. They have also been monitoring D League players as potential additions, sources say.

The Knicks have a roster spot open — just 14 players are under contract, so they don’t need to make a move to bring in Wroten or anyone else.

The Knicks start Jose Calderon at the one and bring promising rookie Jerian Grant off the bench, but they could use more steady play at the one.

We’ll see if Wroten is the guy to do that; they may be better off with someone out of the D-League that could grow with them. But expect someone to snatch up Wroten soon.

Karl-Anthony Towns defends play while holding Andrew Wiggins’ shoe


Karl-Anthony Towns is proving to be a versatile defender. He can protect the rim, show out on pick-and-rolls, and shows a high IQ defensively for a rookie.

And he can defend while holding a shoe.

Not sure how valuable that last skill is, but when Andrew Wiggins stepped out of his shoe during a defensive possession Monday against the Spurs, Towns picked up the shoe and held on to it (rather than toss it out-of-bounds). While carrying the shoe Towns still cut off a Tony Parker drive to the basket, then chased Parker out to the corner so there was no three (Parker passed inside to LaMarcus Aldridge, but he missed the shot).

Towns looked like his leading-candidate-for-Rookie-of-the-Year self on Monday with 10 points and 12 rebounds against San Antonio. Plus he was the best defender holding a shoe in his hands on the court.