Kurt Helin

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is optimistic about Knicks coming season, except the start

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The 2015-16 Knicks will be better than last season’s version.

Which is admittedly a pretty low bar to clear, but there are reasons to be optimistic. Carmelo Anthony should be healthy. The additions of players such as Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo will help now, the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis brings hope for the future.

Just maybe not the start of the season. Phil Jackson is a little concerned about how everything meshes to open the season, he told Charlie Rosen in the last of the Phil Files posts at ESPN.

“We have a number of new players, so they may struggle early as they learn how to play with each other,” he says. “Where we end up as the season progresses is an unknown, but we have improved our roster and have a chance to be a good team.”

Define good. Does Jackson mean good as in better than last season? Then sure. Good as in a playoff team? That’s not an easy road for the Knicks — it would take a 21-game improvement in the win column to reach last season’s eight seed, and the Knicks likely need to do better than that. That said, it’s not impossible. Good as in a .500 team? That would take a 24-game improvement, and while that does happen it is also rare (and usually involves bringing in an elite player). Don’t bet the rent is what I’m saying.

However, Jackson is optimistic, and he lavishes praise on his new players in speaking to Rosen. Look at what he said about Afflalo.

“Some NBA watchers have questioned whether or not Arron has anything left as he nears his 30th birthday, but I’m positive that he does. He has a gym in his Las Vegas home and he works out religiously. Actually, he’s such a hard-worker that he holds his teammates accountable if they try to cut corners in any way. I look for Arron to be a leader on this team. He wanted us and we wanted him, so Arron and the Knicks is a very good match.”

I’ll buy that, I think Afflalo is a bit underrated. Of course, when Jackson heaps praise on the signing of SashaVujacic, you know he’s spinning.

“Except for a 10-day contract with the Clippers in 2014, Sasha hasn’t played in the NBA for four years, but at age 31 he still has plenty of game. He’s a classic streak-shooter who, when he’s zeroed in, can totally change a game in three minutes. He’ll be a significant force for us coming off the bench.”

Vujacic does know the triangle offense. So there’s that. But when a guy’s out of the league through his prime and you bring him back after that… it’s not traditionally a recipe for success.

 

 

Report: Lakers considering bringing back Metta World Peace

Metta World Peace
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One of the frequent criticisms of the Lakers is that they are still living in 2008 as an organization. From their choice of Byron Scott as coach and his old-school offensive systems, to their lack of trust in analytics, to their reliance on an aging Kobe Bryant both on the court (see Byron Scott) and off it to sell tickets/sponsorships, it seems like time has frozen with one of the NBA’s storied franchises.

This isn’t going to help any.

The Lakers are considering bringing back Metta World Peace (the former Ron Artest), reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers are discussing the possibility of signing free agent forward Metta World Peace to a one-year contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

No deal has been agreed upon, but there have been talks between the Lakers and World Peace’s representatives, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

There are varying degrees of interest within the Lakers organization about bringing him back to the franchise at 35 years old, but World Peace has been in the Lakers’ practice facility this offseason playing against the team’s players, including 2014 first-round pick Julius Randle, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Varying degrees of interest? This is about like debating if Donald Trump’s hair is real — we all know the answer. Some people may just not want to admit it.

The Lakers have potentially superb young players to help them move into the future — D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — but this would be a return to the past. And if you’re looking for a veteran mentor, there are better options.

When last we saw MWP on an NBA court, an unimpressive Knicks team waived him in 2014 because he isn’t near the same defender he once was and his offensive game has slipped (he shot just 31 percent from three). Last season he played in Italy where he averaged 13.3 points a game. At age 35, he’s not going to bounce back to NBA levels of play.

World Peace had an impressive NBA career — an All-Star, an NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and a champion. He’ll be remembered fondly for his colorful antics, and not as fondly for things like the Malice in the Palace. But he had a fantastic NBA career.

One that should be over.

I’d like to say they can’t be serious, but the Lakers are hard to read lately.

Happy 50th birthday Reggie Miller, let us celebrate with career highlights (VIDEO)

reggie-miller
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Reggie Miller is a Hall of Famer and one of the great pure shooters ever to lace them up in the NBA.

He is second on the all-time three-pointers made list (behind only Ray Allen). He is a five-time All-Star and a three-time All-NBA player, he’s a career 39.5 percent from deep, and he never shied away from the big moments. Particularly against the Knicks (to the torment of Spike Lee).

Miller turns 50 today — happy birthday Reggie! — so we thought we’d bring you these career highlights, which were part of the ceremony welcoming him into the HOF.

PBT Extra: One-on-one with Stephen Curry

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six
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I was fortunate enough to sit down with the NBA’s reigning MVP and Finals MVP Stephen Curry at the at the TPC Harding Park Golf Club (home of the 2020 PGA Championships) recently, and we got to talk about his love of golf and what it was like to play a round with President Barack Obama.

We also talked hoops, and what it will take for Golden State to go back-to-back, and you can see that conversation — and discussing the style and legacy of the Warriors — above.source: Getty Images
Curry, who was there on behalf of one of his sponsors, Degree antiperspirants (which involved deeply in motion analysis and the study of human movement, such as Curry golfing), also talked to me about if he has had any downtime to relax this summer.

“A little bit,” Curry said. “We’ve been moving around a lot this year, from place to place. Obviously there’s a lot of opportunity to celebrate what a great season it was, and obviously the new addition to our family. A lot has changed.

“But in the offseason I get out and play a little bit of golf, I stay moving that way, and then obviously you have to prepare for next season too and I’m already in that mindset. So it’s been a pretty crazy summer celebrating good things, great things, but there’s also been a good amount of time to reflect on how special it was.”

LeBron James pumped to play with Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving again

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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For Cavaliers’ fans, last season led to a question of “what if?”

What if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had been healthy through the playoffs and into the Finals? What if the threesome found a more comfortable groove earlier in the season? Would the drought have ended?

LeBron James is thinking the same thing, based on this Instagram post from Sunday night.

When Irving, Love and LeBron were on the court together last season (1,441 minutes), they outscored opponents by 13.6 points per 48 minutes. After the All-Star break, they were +14.7 and did that mostly with a defensive rating of 99.2 (points per 100 possessions). For the season, the trio had an offensive rating of 113.5 points per 100 possessions when paired, which was 5.8 per 100 better than the team average and 3.7 per 100 better than the best offense in the NBA for the season (the Clippers).

LeBron is right to be excited — they should be better this season.

If they can stay healthy, if David Blatt can use the increased depth on the roster to keep that trio rested, the Cavaliers are the team to beat. And not just in the East.