Knicks have most favorable schedule for back-to-backs, Raptors least favorable


Carmelo Anthony called having fewer back-to-backs “the dream.”

The NBA fulfilled that dream, significantly reducing the number of back-to-backs in the 2015-16 schedule.

In fact, the league did Melo’s Knicks one better.

New York plays just 17 back-to-backs, tied for seventh-fewest in the NBA,. More significantly, the Knicks opponents are on a back-to-back a league-high 25 times.

That gives the Knicks an NBA-best +8 difference in back-to-backs.

On the other side, like the Knicks, the Raptors play 17 back-to-backs. But Toronto’s opponents are on back-to-backs just 10 times, giving the Raptors a league-worst -8 difference.

Here’s how every team stacks up, using data from


Team Back-to-backs Opponent back-to-backs Back-to-backs difference
New York 17 25 +8
Brooklyn 15 21 +6
Phoenix 14 19 +5
Oklahoma City 16 21 +5
Indiana 17 22 +5
Dallas 17 20 +3
New Orleans 17 20 +3
Portland 19 22 +3
San Antonio 17 19 +2
Chicago 17 18 +1
Utah 18 19 +1
Atlanta 19 20 +1
Orlando 19 20 +1
Washington 19 20 +1
Denver 16 16 0
Detroit 20 20 0
Houston 20 20 0
Milwaukee 20 20 0
Charlotte 16 15 -1
LA Lakers 18 17 -1
LA Clippers 20 19 -1
Minnesota 14 12 -2
Boston 19 16 -3
Miami 17 13 -4
Sacramento 19 15 -4
Cleveland 19 14 -5
Golden State 20 15 -5
Memphis 18 12 -6
Philadelphia 19 13 -6
Toronto 17 10 -7

Kudos to the NBA for reducing the number of back-to-backs. It’s important for preventing injuries and improving the level of play.

But the next step is equity.

The Knicks and Raptors play in the same division. They shouldn’t face such radically different schedules.

Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green teammates USA Basketball exhibition Thursday in Las Vegas


After what happened last year at the USA Basketball meaningless exhibition game in Las Vegas — the Paul George injury — nobody should be shocked that a lot of the big names you can expect to see playing in 2016 at the Rio Olympics begged out of the USA Basketball exhibition game at the end of traning camp on Thursday.

So few players wanted to take part a handful of guys who were not part of the regular camp had to be called in to play in the game.

Still, there’s some star power out there.

USA Basketball announced the rosters for the showcase, as reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Blue Team (Monty Williams, coach):

Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Victor Oladipo, and Elfrid Payton.

White Team (Tom Thibodeau, coach):

Arron Afflalo, Michael Carter-Williams, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, Terrance Jones, Kawhi Leonard, Mason Plumlee, Klay Thompson, C.J. Watson.

I’ll pick the White Team, for two reasons. First is, I like that roster better — Cousins on the inside, Green and Leonard playing defense, Griffin owning everyone, and Thompson shooting from somewhere out on the strip and knocking them down.

Then there is Tom Thibodeau — he’s got nothing else to do, he’s probably watched 12 hours of film prepping for this game.

Let’s just hope everyone stays healthy.

LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t meet with Knicks because they asked him to play center


LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the game’s most skilled power forwards, able to dominate from the left block or knock down fadeaways in the midrange.

Just don’t ask him to play center.

Which is what the Knicks were going to do — they had just drafted Kristaps Porzingis and he is the future at the four spot.

That is why Aldridge cancelled his free agent meeting with the Knicks this summer, he told Frank Isola from the New York Daily News, out in Las Vegas where Aldridge is part of the USA Basketball mini-camp.

“They were saying they wanted me to be more of a center to let their guy develop and I just wasn’t looking to be that,” Aldridge said. “So I was looking to play power forward, and they weren’t really interested…

“Melo and I talked a little bit over text and we have mutual friends that passed messages along. I was interested,” Aldridge said. “I talked to other guys to see if they were interested in going there too. I was interested but when they say they want me to play a position that I don’t want to play, I get it.”

Aldridge ultimately chose the Spurs, and most likely would have done the same after meeting with the Knicks regardless.

I can see the comments now about how this is the Knicks being the Knicks and Phil Jackson screwing up again.

Except he didn’t — this is exactly the right play.

Aldridge, at 30 years old, is a guy looking for a win-now situation, and the Knicks are not that. They should not try to be that — their years of floundering around have been in large part due to quick fix after quick fix trying to make the playoffs rather than following a long-term plan. Aldridge would only have been another in those line of quick-fixes. With him, the Knicks make the playoffs as a middle-of-the-pack team (but no real threat to the Cavaliers) but don’t build for the future. The Knicks need to play Porzingis at the four and the five (playing Carmelo Anthony at the four for stretches as well) and while that learning curve could be painful at times they need to suffer through it.

We can debate whether Jackson is up to the task, or if his triangle system can thrive in a modern NBA, I have my doubts. But at least someone in the organization is focused on the big picture right now. That has not been the case consistently for far too long.

Besides, the pitch from Jackson and coach Derek Fisher impressed DeAndre Jordan, who at the same event told Marc Berman of the post he strongly considered the Knicks.

“I had a great meeting and great presentation,’’ Jordan said after Tuesday’s US Olympic Team mini-camp. “Phil Jackson speaks for himself. Fish [Derek Fisher] did a great job. The whole team had a plan with the organization, a plan for me that was cool. I just decided to stay with the Clippers, but it was great.

“The Knicks were definitely a team I was considering.’’

Maybe Knicks fans should be happy Jordan didn’t first choose them. But at least the pitch — to a true center (they eventually landed another one in Robin Lopez) — was on point.




Carmelo Anthony tells Knicks fan on Instragam: ‘You are stuck with me’


Knicks color commentator Walt Frazier wonders whether Carmelo Anthony will ask for a trade.

Arron Afflalo says Melo is “very committed” to the Knicks.

How does Melo feel?

He indicated his stance when responding to a fan on Instagram (via Ian Begley of ESPN):

“Shows how little you know about me. Staying in NY shows that I do care. If I would have left, what would you have said then? ‘Oh, Melos wack for leaving. He turned his back on NY’. FOH. You are stuck with me buddy. Deal with it. If you want me gone, I’ll personally walk you into the front office so you can plead your case of the Knicks trading me. Hope you have bail money bc they might have you arrested for Disturbing the Peace.”

Melo raises a good point: Many of the same Knicks fans who want him to leave New York now would have resented him if he left in free agency in 2014.

But facts remain:

  • Melo’s window for elite individual production is slowly closing.
  • The Knicks are not particularly close to contending.

It’s easy to see how Melo and the Knicks would stop seeing their relationship as symbiotic.

The past – Melo requesting a trade to the Knicks and then re-signing with them last year – might cause him to give his current team the benefit of the doubt. Surely, Melo wants to make it work In New York. I think he cares about making the Knicks successful.

But if the Knicks struggle again, they might want to trade him to continue rebuilding. Likewise, a 31-year-old Melo might consider waiving his no-trade clause.

All signs say the Knicks and Melo are happy enough together for now. But all logic says that harmony might not last.

Phil Jackson: “I think we succeeded” in changing Knicks’ culture


The Knicks were a flat out disaster on the court last season.

New York fans are not renown for their patience so rebuilding there would always lead to cries of pain, but the Knicks being terrible on the court was to be expected last season. The real question in Phil Jackson’s first season was not wins and losses but rather something more intangible:

Could he change the culture of the organization and start to lay a foundation for future success?

Jackson thinks he did, as he told Charlie Rosen for ESPN.

“I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Knicks since I left here. Love, because playing here was such a joy. Hate, because the Bulls always had to get past the Knicks in some very contentious series to advance in the playoffs. But I had to break up the team for us to move forward in the right direction. That means getting talented players that fit with each other on and off the court. Also getting players who understand that while playing basketball is fun, this is also a business. So we need guys who will ice after practice, watch what they eat, avoid having those three extra beers when they party, and get the rest they need. I think we succeeded in getting this particular cultural change.”

Guys such as Andrea Bargnani certainly did not get how to be professional, and they are gone. In their place come solid pros such as Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo. Those players should lead the way and set the example for Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, and Langston Galloway.

Throw in a healthy Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks should be improved on the court and better off it. Is that enough to make the playoffs in the East? If everything comes together they may be in the mix for a spot.

Is that enough to make the New York media and some fans happy? Certainly not.

But I’ve said this before: If Phil Jackson can keep owner James Dolan out of the decision-making process and guide/let the basketball people just do their thing, he’s worth $12 million a year. It still will take years to build the Knicks back up (and we can debate if Jackson is capable of that, I think the jury is still out) but if he can keep the Knicks on one path rather than the constantly changing it will let them build a foundation.