Pablo Prigioni excelling in FIBA World Cup

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Carmelo Anthony may not be participating in the FIBA World Cup this summer, but Pablo Prigioni sure is.

Primed to return to the Knicks for a third straight season, Prigioni is getting an offseason tuneup against some talented international competition.

Whereas in New York, Prigioni is not asked to do too much, he’s currently tasked with leading the way for Argentina as the squad’s starting point guard. Having initially made his name over the course of a career overseas before joining the Knicks, Prigioni has had tremendous success matching up against international competition in the past. He continued to excel this weekend.

On Saturday, Prigioni led his team to a 98-75 win over Puerto Rico with a near double-double consisting of 9 points and 10 assists. In addition to tallying one steal, the floor general had a plus/minus of +17 in the victory.

Though Argentina fell to Croatia by a score of 90-85 on Sunday, Prigioni continued to stand out for his steady contributors. Leading his team with a plus/minus of +6 in the contest, the point guard added 8 points, dished out 5 assists, and swiped 2 steals.

On Monday, Prigioni happened to struggle a bit more while his team almost let one get away from them against the Philippines. When push came to shove, however, Prigioni and co. managed to come out victorious. He added another 8 points, 3 assists, and steals, but shot just 2 of 9 from the field. The opposing squad played with a certain defensive physicality that Prigioni isn’t as used to matching up against. He did lead his team with a plus/minus of +10 in the 85-81 win, though.

Such practice against this level of competition is likely helping Prigioni remain in good shape heading into training camp, where he’ll be expected to catch on to the triangle offense.

 

Would Knicks welcome back Kenyon Martin?

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

With the 2014-15 season set to be a transitional year for the Knicks as they wait for cap relief to come the next summer, one might have wondered if the team’s roster would truly look much different this coming season.

But as fate would have it, Phil Jackson and co. have slowly but surely transformed the team’s roster. Changes were made little by little, and New York figures to have a different look and a fresh mentality in the coming months.

Kenyon Martin, Jonas Valanciu, Linas KleizaTwo of the remaining stragglers from last season, Shannon Brown (Miami Heat) and Toure Murry (Utah Jazz), both signed with different teams this week. Most of the team’s departed players are now spoken for.

That said, Kenyon Martin still remains a free agent. Having provided the Knicks with one of the most intimidating and physical defensive presences they’ve had in years, there’s no doubt the veteran forward made a positive contribution over the past two seasons. The only problem was, he didn’t exactly make enough of it.

Martin’s appeared in just 50 games in two seasons with New York. He’s battled injuries in each year. Despite joining the Knicks towards the end of the 2012-13 season, the forward was forced to sit out a handful of contests. This past season, his last appearance came on February 1st, but he even missed fifteen games before that as well.

As the Knicks filled out their roster this offseason, they passed on offering Martin another contract. Still unsigned in late August, it’s no surprise that his inability to stay healthy over the course of a full season has reportedly scared other teams away, too.

Despite all of this, perhaps the forward will return to don orange and blue one more time. If a player cannot keep himself on the court for (at least) the majority of the season, it’s not worth granting him a contract at the beginning of the season. After getting burned by the likes of Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby in the past, New York may have learned its lesson by now.

Martin is a terrific locker room guy who, when actually hitting the hardwood, provides the Knicks with something they don’t get from just anybody. Having not appeared in 60 games in any of the last four seasons, signing the vet to a training camp contract with hopes of him impressing early on probably isn’t the way to go.

However, by employing the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnanu, and Samuel Dalembert on their frontline, there’s a good chance the Knicks could be in need of an extra big man, should these aforementioned players fall victims to injuries midseason. Perhaps if he’s still available by then, the team could give Martin a call.

 

Shumpert shines in new movie promo

On the court, Iman Shumpert may be the Knicks guard, but on the silver screen he’ll be a bodyguard. Shumpert recently tried his hand at acting, and it turned out better than expected.

Shumpert has dabbled in the music business as a rapper, but this time he turned out a a pro prankster as part of a promotion for “The November Man” which was released in theaters on Wednesday (Post, August 28).

Don’t believe it? Watch Shumpert’s debut.

Heat sign Shannon Brown

The Heat will sign Shannon Brown to a one-year, $1.3 million deal (Amick, Aug. 27).

The Knicks waived Brown in July.

Brown was signed to a 10-day contract, then signed through the remainder of the season, in February and March, respectively.

He scored 2.1 points, with 0.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 7.8 minutes per game, over 19 games with the Knicks last season.

Iman Shumpert

Focused Shumpert ready for triangle

Guard Iman Shumpert, gaining confidence as his surgically repaired left leg gets stronger, is ready to embrace the triangle offense new coach Derek Fisher and president Phil Jackson are bringing to the Knicks  (ESPN, Aug. 26).

He’s also cut down on his time on social media to block out the aggravation of the trade rumors that dogged him this summer.

In praising the triangle,  Shumpert said he’ll be able to do more in that offense than in the one used by ex-Knicks coach Mike Woodson, which stressed isolation. Shumpert, entering his fourth season, had career-low averages of 6.7 points and 37.8 shooting last season.

“The way it’s set up, you can start three guards, it really doesn’t matter. Everybody’s going to get touches, everybody gets opportunities to cut,” Shumpert said. “It’s constant action going on. So I think that I’ll be able to capitalize on that and I’ll be able to use my athleticism a lot more than standing in the corner.

“I know this year in the offense I will have a lot more opportunities to cut and get to the basket. I just want to work on the strength of my leg. Been working on that and being able to pull up off one or two dribbles [and working] on corner [threes] and open threes.”

Shumpert  said he wants to be confident leaping off one leg, which he couldn’t do last season. He tore his left ACL his rookie year and sprained it last season.

“All I’ve been working on is getting that trust in my left leg to take off from farther and take off earlier and use it a lot more cutting and slashing to the basket,” Shumpert said. “Definitely trusting going off two legs than going off one leg last year. … This year I want to go off one leg just as much as I go off two.”

Trade rumors led to Shumpert’s social media retreat.

“I used to react to it,” Shumpert said. “That along with too many people telling you what you need to be doing. It caused me to step away from social media. I let my agency run it now and I tell them what to put and they update it for me and follow along with what is going on.”

“I can’t have people always having their opinions floating my way,” Shumpert said. “I am done with that. I don’t have the apps on my phone.”

 

J.R. Smith says he’s destined to be one of NBA’s best shooters

Sam Spiegelman

J.R. Smith has a message for his fans.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Smith had the following message for his doubters:

They said I wouldn’t make it! I did! They said I wouldn’t stay! This is my 11th yr! They said you can’t shoot like that in the league! I’m on pace to be one of the best shooters the game had ever seen! Bottom line what yall say don’t me sh@$ What I do says everything! #Gone

Smith, at times, has been one of the league’s best shooters. He’s a career 37 percent 3-point shooter and almost good for 43 percent from the field. He’s averaged 13.4 points per game in 10 NBA seasons.

Nobody is going to confuse him with Ray Allen, though.

Westchester Knicks to hold open tryouts

The Westchester Knicks, the Knicks D-League team, will hold open tryouts for the 2014-15 season on September 20.

From the team:

The Westchester tryout will be limited to 75 participants, who must all meet NBA Development League eligibility requirements. The players will be competing for an invitation to the Westchester Knicks’ training camp in November. Tryouts are scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. and conclude by 5:00 p.m.; with doors opening at 10:00 a.m.

The fee to secure a tryout spot is $150. All participants must register in advance.

Will Knicks have enough minutes to go around for Shane Larkin?

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

With first-time head coach Derek Fisher set to make the transition from the hardwood to the sidelines quicker than most, it’ll be interesting to see how his rotations shape up as the season begins.

But as the five-time NBA champion looks for the Knicks to utilize the triangle offense, the two point-guard lineups that have previously proven to be successful for New York recently appear to be a thing of the past.

USATSI_7773993_110579513_lowresEarlier in the offseason, the Knicks jettisoned Raymond Felton to Dallas and instead upgraded the point guard position by acquiring Jose Calderon. An excellent floor general with an uncanny ability to spread the floor with his long-range shooting prowess, the latter looks like a viable option to help lead the team’s offense. Calderon will certainly also receive help manning the position from Pablo Prigioni, a savvy veteran who garners respect from his teammates and knows how to control the tempo of an offense quite well.

With these two veteran leaders set to receive the bulk of playing time moving forward, one has to wonder if there’ll be enough minutes to go around for Shane Larkin.

Considered merely a throw-in included in the trade with the Mavericks that otherwise saw the Knicks acquire Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, and two draft picks, Larkin should be looked at as more than just an afterthought.

As he aimed to fight his back from a broken ankle during his rookie year with Dallas, it took Larkin a while to find his groove. Having played sparingly in just 48 contests last season, one could argue he’s still trying to find it. But after garnering high praise from NBA D-League coaches while on assignment from the Mavericks, Larkin picked up right where he left off last season as he impressed the Knicks during Summer League.

To read more of this story, click here

Thanasis Antetokounmpo two

Knicks rookie took $500K pay cut to play in D-League

Knicks draft pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo chose the NBA’s D-League over an A-Division team in the Italian League along with over a $500K pay cut in hopes of expediting his NBA career (Post, August 26).

The rookie took the $25,000 cap to play in Westchester over a two-year $550,000 deal with an opt-out to join the NBA after one year, much to the surprise of his agent, Tim Lotsos.

“Amazing, isn’t it?,’’ Lotsos said in a phone interview with the Post. “To my surprise, he passed on it. He’s very ambitious and determined to make the NBA. It’s a big sacrifice. It could’ve really put him ahead of schedule in his career. I didn’t try to force him. I wanted him to make his own decision.’’

Ultimately Antetokounmpo followed the advice of Knicks president, Phil Jackson, who made it clear when they drafted the rookie that he wouldn’t immediately make the roster.

“He spoke with Steve Mills and Phil Jackson,’’ Lotsos said. “He felt he’s in their plans in the future. They don’t have room for him on the roster, but they supported the idea of keeping [him] within the system and working and improving. He felt they do have a plan for him but they didn’t guarantee anything for next year.’’

Antetokounmpo played in the D-League last season before being drafted, though his agent said Thanasis is still hopeful a roster spot will open late in the season.

Knicks announce preseason schedule

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

On Monday afternoon, the Knicks announced the team’s preseason schedule for the 2014-15 season. Spanning over a two-week period, New York will make stops in Canada, Syracuse, and Hartford (among others). The Celtics, 76ers, Bucks, Wizards, and Raptors will all serve as tune-ups for the team before the season begins.

See below for the full schedule.

Date Opponent Arena Time
10/8/2014 at Boston Celtics XL Center, Hartford, CT 7:30 p.m.
10/11/2014 at Boston Celtics Mohegan Sun Arena, Mohegan, CT 7:30 p.m.
10/13/2014 Toronto Raptors Madison Square Garden 7:30 p.m.
10/14/2014 at Philadelphia 76ers Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY 7:00 p.m.
10/20/2014 Milwaukee Bucks Madison Square Garden 7:30 p.m.
10/22/2014 Washington Wizards Madison Square Garden 7:30 p.m.
10/24/2014 at Toronto Raptors Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec 7:30 p.m.