67RIEFNS No. 17: Jose Calderon setting up Carmelo Anthony offensively

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The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

The triangle offense’s affect on Carmelo Anthony has been discussed in great depth. Alone, we’ve written four posts on it.

But I don’t think the scheme of Knicks coach Phil Jackson Derek Fisher will have the largest effect on Melo.

That honor would go to New York’s new point guard, Jose Calderon.

Calderon is a pinpoint passer, careful ball-handler and sweet shooter. If you were designing the ideal complement to Melo offensively, he’d look something like Calderon.

Melo has been criticized for being selfish – and that was before he led the NBA with a career-high 35.6 usage percentage in 2012-13. Last year, Melo’s usage fell settled in at an above-career-average 32.4, which ranked fourth in the league.

To some degree, those numbers are unavoidable. Melo is a better scorer than passer. He works well in isolation, particularly in the post. This is just who he is.

But don’t completely blame Melo for the ball stopping. In New York, his point guards have been Raymond Felton, Jeremy Lin and an over-the-hill Chauncey Billups. That’s asking him to do to much.

But Calderon can change all that.

Calderon-Melo pick-and-rolls should create high-value looks within the flow of the offense. Calderon can throw quality entry passes to Melo. And Calderon is a strong spot-up shooter, making it more difficult for opponents to double Melo inside.

As the Knicks’ point guards have gotten worse while he has been in New York, Melo has gotten better. He’s expanded his offensive game, becoming capable of scoring efficiently in a variety of ways.

Now, he can pair those skills with a legitimately good offensive point guard whose style fits his. This is a good match, one that makes one of the NBA’s best scorers even better.

Just don’t think about how these two pair defensively.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel doesn’t like the idea of NBA shortening games


The NBA will be testing the idea of a 44-minute game this Sunday in Brooklyn, where the Nets will face the Celtics in a preseason exhibition contest.

The idea is to lessen the load on the league’s players, without sacrificing the revenue that shortening the season by eliminating games would cost.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra knows that the length of the season is the real issue here, but he at least seemed open to trying a shorter game to see what happens. Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, however, seems to have already decided that the 44-minute concept isn’t something he’s interested in.

From Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports:

“Personally, I don’t really like it,” Vogel told reporters.

Vogel impression is that there are a handful of reasons the league is looking into, and TV, in trying to fit games in specific time slots, is a key part of that.

“I don’t have enough minutes to get all my guys enough minutes to keep them happy,” he said. “You’re going to take away four a game, that’s going to make my job harder.”

While he may have been joking to a certain extent, Vogel brings up what could very well be an unintended consequence of making games shorter.

The star players on teams, when healthy, are used to carrying extended work loads. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden, for example, were in the top six in minutes played per game last season, and if coaches feel like those numbers are at a reasonable threshold, there’s no reason to dial that back to give more run to the reserves.

Things could unfold exactly as Vogel mentions, with bench guys clamoring for fewer available minutes. But the reality is that we have no idea how this would really impact the games on a long-term basis, and one look at it during the exhibition season isn’t going to tell us.

This is merely a creative attempt at a solution, though the true effects of something like this aren’t likely to be known without having a much larger set of data to analyze.

Kevin Love: ‘I hope’ to play in 2016 Olympics


The 2016 Rio Olympics are still a couple years off, but NBA stars are already hinting about their plans.

Kevin Durant plans to play, and so does an injured Paul George. Carmelo Anthony is cautiously optimistic. LeBron James is neutral.

Kevin Love shares Melo’s sentiment.

Love, via Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

“Playing for my country has done a lot of things for my career,” Love said. “Wearing USA across my chest was a great way to feel patriotic. I hope I have another chance in 2016 to be here.”

I ranked Love No. 3 most likely to make the United States’ 2016 Olympic roster, but that was before he withdrew from the World Cup team. That type of thing can rub the Team USA brass the wrong way, but Jerry Colangelo seemed to understand. Love was handling abnormal trade talk this summer.

Two years ago, Love impressed LeBron while Team USA won gold in the Beijing Olympics. That led to Love joining LeBron with the Cavaliers. That will also likely lead to Love joining the 2016 U.S. Olympic team – if he wants.

The ball is in his court. We’ll see what he does with it, but he at least sounds interested.

Phil Jackson: Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert likely Knicks starters


When it comes to hinting about the Knicks starting lineup, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher said only Carmelo Anthony was the only lock to start.

Melo said he’d primarily play small forward.

And now Knicks president Phil Jackson is chiming in.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

Jackson said Jose Calderon and Sam Dalembert will probably start at point guard and center, respectively.

Jackson, an all-time great coach, has said he doesn’t want to overstep. So hopefully, he’s just being more open with the media about Fisher’s preferences – not injecting his own.

Calderon (over Pablo Prigioni) and Dalembert (over Jason Smith) seem to be the strongest candidates at their positions, so whoever made the decision is doing something right.

That leaves just two positions up for grabs, and they’re both tightly contested:

  • Shooting guard: Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. or J.R. Smith
  • Power forward: Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani

Mike Woodson was happy to mix-and-match lineups. We don’t yet know Fisher’s direction, but unless someone in those groups really separates himself during the preseason, we might see more lineup shuffling as the Knicks seek what works best.

But I think starting Melo, Calderon and Dalembert is a good start.

Phil Jackson: Carmelo Anthony “has just touched the surface of the greatness he is capable of”


Phil Jackson has put a lot of faith in Carmelo Anthony as he prepares to take on the New York Knicks’ resuscitation project. The team’s newly minted President of Basketball Operations signed Anthony to a five-year, $122 million contract this summer and spoke to reporters on Sunday at the New Yorker Festival. The Zen Master addressed a wide range of topics, from the triangle offense to Donald Sterling to the Knicks’ media-relations policy.

Here’s what he had to say about his franchise centerpiece:

At 30 years old, Anthony is right in the middle of his prime, meaning he’s likely done developing. But Jackson believes that any player can be made better in the triangle offense his protege, Derek Fisher, is implementing in his first year as Knicks head coach.

In typical Jackson fashion, a comment that on the surface appears to be praising Anthony is actually praising himself. Anthony has been in the NBA for 11 years, led the league in scoring and been one of the biggest stars in the world, but he’s going to have his best year yet because now he’s got Phil Jackson and the triangle offense. It’s a classic Zen Master move that both gives confidence to his players and builds up his own mystique and reputation.

In other triangle notes, Jackson said point guard Jose Calderon, who came over from Dallas in a June trade, has picked up the offense better than anybody else on the roster and will be the starting point guard.

Jackson also told reporters that he will not give books to the Knicks players, as he often did with his Bulls and Lakers teams, leaving that up to Fisher to do.