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

1 Comment

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.

Mavericks’ Raymond Felton out at least 10 days, likely longer, with high ankle sprain


Dallas was going to try and make this season work with a three-headed point guard monster of Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton.

Well, at least for the rest of training camp it and maybe much longer is a two-headed monster… or what you might call a regular rotation.

Felton is going to be out for a little while after spraining his ankle in Friday’s preseason game against the Thunder, as reported by Earl K. Sneed of mavs.com.

Ten days is likely low, high ankle sprains can take or month or more. Ten basically takes us to the end of training camp and beyond that we’re into the start of the season.

Nelson is the starting point guard in Dallas right now, with Harris and Felton fighting for the minutes behind him. Obviously this gives Harris the leg up.

Felton will get his chance at some point during the season, it’s a long grind. The question is can he can just stay out of the Lockhart Smokehouse enough to stay in shape to take advantage of the opportunity?

Jameer Nelson is your starting point guard in Dallas (for now, at least)


Dallas is going to go with a point guard by committee, a three-headed monster this season (trying to replace Jose Calderon, who is running the triangle in New York). That said, someone has to get the ball at the start of the game, one guy has to be the lead.

That’s going to be Jameer Nelson. Gary Harris and Raymond Felton will back him up.

That always seems the logical outcome and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confirmed it, speaking with Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.

“When we were recruiting him this summer, I told him we were looking for the best guy to be a starter for us,” Carlisle said of Nelson. “I really like Harris off the bench. That said, I think Harris is one of our three or four best players. But we’ve had a history here of bringing some of our better guys off the bench.

“At this point, Devin and I have talked about it and continue to talk about it. He’s willing to do anything. He wants to be a Maverick and wants to win.

“I like Jameer in that spot and Felton, he’s going to be out the first four games. So if there were some tea leaves here, that’s what it may look like. But it’s early to commit to anything. We got to see how it goes in games.”

This is a good fit. Nelson is a veteran guy who can run the team and get the ball to Dirk Nowitzki, or he can be a spot up shooter when Monta Ellis is attacking or Nowitzki is kicking out.

Plus it keeps Harris, who comes with more quickness, in a sixth man/change of pace roll. And Felton, he can get minutes whenever there are extras.

The rotation is going to shift and change over the course of the season, but look for Carlisle to lean heavily on Nelson. He’s the best option they have.

Tyson Chandler says negative comments questioning his impact on chemistry with Knicks were ‘the ultimate shock’


It’s been almost three months since the trade that sent Tyson Chandler from the Knicks to the Mavericks became official, but only now has Chandler fired back at his former team regarding insinuations that he may have been bad for its chemistry.

Chandler appeared in just 55 games for New York last season due to injury, and was reportedly reprimanded by then-head coach Mike Woodson about being publicly critical of the team — specifically about a lack of adjustments, which obviously reflected negatively on Woodson himself.

Phil Jackson said that changing the chemistry was part of the motivation for sending Chandler (along with Raymond Felton) away, and Chandler didn’t at all take kindly to those remarks.

From Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

“I did nothing but try to help the culture there the three years I was there,” Chandler said Friday. “You can say I didn’t live up to whatever or you didn’t like the way I played or anything. But to ever question who I am and the type of leader I am in the locker room, I don’t even know where that came from.

“I honestly don’t know where that came from. I don’t know if Phil put that out there or who put that out there, but to me, that was the ultimate shock. And you don’t have to say that to get rid of me or to trade me. The trade is over. …

“It makes no sense,” Chandler said. “If you call holding people accountable daily being a bad influence, then hey, I’m a bad influence. But I’m going to be that as long as I’m going to strap up my shoes and step on the basketball court. And that was the big problem there.”

Chandler definitely didn’t speak in constant platitudes when facing the media during a difficult season in New York, but being honest publicly is a far cry from being a bad teammate, or creating problems behind the scenes.

None of that matters now, of course, because Chandler is in a new place, and so are the Knicks. And, even if Jackson’s comments were a veiled reference to Chandler’s behavior in the previous season, he wasn’t there to witness it first-hand. It’s probably best that both sides move on at this point, and focus on the future.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: New York Knicks


Last season: The Knicks finished just a game out of the playoffs, but their final place in the standings is more than a little bit deceiving. New York had a largely dismal campaign that saw the team underachieve, especially when expectations were so high following a 54-win season and a trip to the second round of the playoffs. Injuries to multiple big men, a regression from J.R. Smith and consistently poor play from the point guard position left Carmelo Anthony trying to do it all by himself most nights, and the overall performance of the team was poor enough to see significant changes made this summer.

Signature highlight from last season: Carmelo Anthony is one of the game’s elite scorers, and he put on a stellar shooting display on Jan. 25 against the Bobcats which resulted in him scoring 62 points on 23-of-35 shooting. The Knicks were just 15-27 at the time and entered the game having lost five straight, and with this being a Friday night in Manhattan, it’s worth wondering how many season ticket holders made other plans, and missed seeing this incredible performance in person.

Key player changes: Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton were traded to Dallas in exchange for Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert, and New York also added Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy via trade with the Kings.

Keys to the Knicks season:

The Triangle Offense: Phil Jackson was hired as president of basketball operations this summer, and while his health will prevent him from returning to a head coaching role on a full-time basis, he’ll be doing so by proxy as much as possible. Derek Fisher was hired as head coach, and Kurt Rambis was installed as his lead assistant — both of whom have extensive experience with the Triangle Offense that helped Jackson’s teams win all those titles. It can take time to teach, however, especially to a group of players that are completely uninitiated. New York’s offense wasn’t terrible last season (it ranked 11th in efficiency), but the Triangle is more of an equal opportunity system than whatever it was the Knicks were running under Mike Woodson. If run properly, it will not only help Anthony get the ball in a variety of positions to score, but it will do the same for his teammates, theoretically lightening his load in the process.

Fit of the new pieces: Trading away Tyson Chandler means there is a large hole in the Knicks frontcourt defense that needs to be filled, which is pretty important considering that the team ranked just 26th on that end of the floor last season. Samuel Dalembert can be a capable defender when engaged, but beyond that you’re looking at Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire, neither of whom have a reputation of being impactful defenders. While that area remains a question mark, New York massively upgraded at the point guard position with the acquisition of Jose Calderon — not only a solid floor general, but also someone who consistently ranks among the league leaders in three-point shooting percentage.

More moves on the way? The Knicks were stuck this summer without the ability to go after additional talent via free agency, mainly because of two problematic contracts that have the team over the salary cap. Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are both in the final year of their respective deals, and combined they count for almost $35 million in salary for next season. New York is certainly eying next summer, when they’ll both come off the books in time for the team to try to be active in what’s expected to be a deep free agent market. But since the two aren’t in the long-term plans, Phil Jackson may try to move one or both to add some youth, or some talent more readily available to help the team win in the immediate future. It would likely require the Knicks giving up an asset of their own to entice someone to take on these unsavory contracts, but it isn’t out of the question, depending on who Jackson believes could be had in a trade that would fit his vision of the future.

Why you should watch: Carmelo Anthony is one of the game’s best scorers, and is one of the rare players in the league who occasionally goes through extended stretches where he seemingly can’t be stopped.

Prediction: With all of the changes, from the front office to the coaching staff to some key rotation players on the roster, it’s difficult to see this Knicks team getting off to a fast start. The Triangle Offense is complicated, and installing new offensive and defensive schemes at the same time can be a lot for players to grasp. A return to the playoffs isn’t necessarily likely, but there are only five or six teams in the East that you can pencil in as an almost certainty. New York has a chance to compete for one of the remaining spots, and in a season where championship aspirations are admittedly out of the picture, that’s really all you can ask for.