Tonight, the two biggest free agent acquisitions of the summer face off. While LeBron James’ former teammates in Cleveland haven’t had much to say about him since he left for Miami, Amar’e Stoudemire’s former Suns teammates had plenty of good things to say about the MVP candidate. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has the story:
Stoudemire always said his shoulders were built broadly to carry the load and he has delivered with the weight of the Knicks’ turnaround and a demanding city on him. Stoudemire has New York at 16-10 after being 8-17 a year ago Friday. He has done it spectacularly, breaking a 48-year-old Knicks record with an ongoing streak of nine 30-point games. Only LeBron James has done that in the past six NBA seasons.
“All eyes on him,” Suns forward Jared Dudley said. “It’s his show. If the season ended right now, no question he’s the MVP.”
“[Stoudemire’s departure] was not a LeBron James situation,” Gentry said.”We wished him well. He wished us well. He took an ad out in the paper (thanking the Suns and fans). It’s great to see him playing really well. Obviously, we’d like to have him playing here but he chose to go to New York and it’s good to see him having success.”
Everyone with the Suns expected Stoudemire to thrive this season. The full offer that the Knicks presented – out of free-agency desperation once James had passed – trumped that of the Suns, who had concerns over Stoudemire’s history of surgeries on both knees.
A lot of people thought that Stoudemire would struggle in New York without Steve Nash feeding him passes, but that certainly hasn’t been the case. Stoudemire has upped his scoring average without sacrificing efficiency, and the Knicks are relevant again thanks to his contributions. The Knicks were tenths of a second away from beating the Celtics on Wednesday night; we’ll see if Amar’e and co can beat the Heat tonight.
UPDATE: The Knicks have made all the reporting official.
As had been expected, David Fizdale is out as the Knicks head coach after an ugly 4-18 start to the season.
Who will coach the Knicks next season depends on the answer to another question: Are team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry safe, or are they on their way out, too?
In the short term, New York promote Mike Miller into the big chair, and bring up Keith Bogans from the G-League coaching staff to round out the roster, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Miller spent four years as the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate, and was the G-League Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He was eventually promoted to the Knicks bench.
Don’t expect a major shake-up in the Knicks’ offensive and defensive systems, or with the rotations, at least in the short term. There just are not a lot of practice days built into the NBA schedule to allow a mid-season replacement to overhaul everything. Plus, with this roster, there’s only so much a human being can do.
This was both expected and right on schedule.
Stephen Curry said almost a month ago that he was going to need a second surgery to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure back on Nov. 1. Curry suffered a fractured hand back on Oct. 30 when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him, and in the first surgery pins were inserted to stabilize the bone through the healing process.
That second surgery has taken place, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Curry has said he fully expects to play this season, although it wouldn’t be until the end of what is a lost cause campaign for Golden State. For now, Curry is focused on recovery.
“[Managing the]swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly,” Curry said last time he spoke to the media.
Without Curry or Klay Thompson yet this season (plus, of course, Kevin Durant on crutches in Brooklyn), and D'Angelo Russell missing a chunk of time as well due to injury, the Warriors have struggled to a 4-19 record with a bottom-five offense and defense.
The hope for the Warriors is to get Curry and Thompson back by next summer and working out, they get a high draft pick, make a couple other moves around the edges, get Draymond Green healthy, and this team is a threat again. This season it’s more like the Warriors are taking a season off to find themselves and travel the world.
The Knicks started 2-8.
Then, it got worse.
Knicks owner James Dolan ordered president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to address the media after a loss. Mills and Perry spoke before coach David Fizdale, a break in decorum that ignited speculation about Fizdale getting fired.
Then, it got worse.
New York lost six straight.
Then, it got worse.
After a 44-point loss to the Bucks, Fizdale said the Knicks entered the game not believing they even could win. They followed that with a 37-point home loss to the Nuggets yesterday that Fizdale called “sickening.”
Finally, with New York 4-18 and on an eight-game losing streak, the Knicks are making a major change.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This was inevitable. Mills wanted Fizdale gone and knows how to navigate Madison Square Garden politics.
The season was already a lost cause, and it’s likely to remain a mess. Keith Smart, who previously coached the Warriors and Kings, was the only other member of the staff with NBA non-interim head-coaching experience.
The big question: Will Mills and Perry survive?
They gave Fizdale a lacking roster and outsized expectations. Nearly any coach would have been doomed to fail in this situation.
To be fair, Fizdale provided no evidence he deserved to be an exception. The Knicks lacked identity under his guidance, and development of younger players was uneven.
But the problems go way above Fizdale, starting with Dolan.
At least we’ll always have this Fizdale quote comparing the Knicks to slipping in ice, dog poop and pee.
Jimmy Butler was hard on Andrew Wiggins. That appeared to be the way then-Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau wanted it. Wiggins had the talent. He just needed a more productive mindset.
Thibodeau got fired. Butler is with the Heat.
But Wiggins is still in Minnesota and playing better than ever – specifically citing wanting to shut up the critics.
Do Butler and Thibodeau deserve any credit?
Wordsplayed explored that in rap form on “Off The Dribble.” He also dropped bars on the 76ers’ ceiling, James Harden‘s scoring and Carmelo Anthony‘s resurgence with the Trail Blazers.