Wall Street Journal: Knicks have reading assignments

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Chris Herring describes how coach Derek Fisher has given his players summer reading assignments.

Knicks president Phil Jackson, Fisher’s former coach with the Lakers, also gave players books to read during his head coaching days.

“Part of [assigning books] is to give them a sense of who their coach is,” Fisher said,” so they can understand how I view performance, competition and self-improvement.” >> Read More

Apr 3, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher stands on the bench during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN picks Knicks to finish 14th in Eastern Conference

In its annual Summer Forecast, an ESPN panel projected the Knicks to finish 14th in the Eastern Conference in 2015-16 (Aug. 17).

The panel said the Knicks will finish with a 25-57 record, which would be an eight-win improvement over the 2014-15 season.

However, their 2015-16 projected record would still be the 10th-worst winning percentage in team history.

The 76ers were the only team to finish below the Knicks in the projections.


Phil Jackson reveals expectations for Kristaps Porzingis

In the latest edition of “The Phil Files” on ESPN.com Phil Jackson discussed his expectations for Kristaps Porzingis this coming season (Aug. 18).

“It’s entirely up to [coach Derek Fisher], but it would be great if KP could get as much as 20 minutes a game early in the season, plus maybe a few more later when he’s acclimated to the NBA game,” Jackson said. “It also has to be determined whether he’ll be more comfortable at power forward or center.”

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Upon selecting him on draft night, Jackson asserted that it would probably take a year for Porzingis to adjust and come into his own. By signing the likes of Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, and Kevin Seraphin this offseason, the Knicks are clearly not interested in rushing Porzingis along.

USATSI_8668111_110579513_lowresIt’s interesting, however, that Jackson fails to definitively call Porzongis a power forward, adding that he could also excel at the center position. He also played the five during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Last week, new Spurs’ big man LaMarcus Aldridge revealed that he cancelled his meeting with New York during free agency because the team made it clear they were committed to Porzingis at power forward and wanted the 30 year old to shift to center instead. Such an assertion was an unfortunate one, as the Knicks lost out on potentially reeling in a four-time NBA all-star.

As Jackson notes, Porizingis is very young and still stands to experience a transition into the NBA to see where he fits best. Nothing is necessarily set in stone just yet. As such, perhaps the Knicks should have been more open-minded to making a Porzingis/Aldridge tandem work.

Many rival scouts and executives from around the league have praised Jackson’s pick of Porzingis when discussing it with TheKnicksBlog.com and SNY.tv. Still, even the Knicks’ President himself understands and identifies the potential unknown when it comes to assessing the young gun’s ceiling and respective abilities.

“Like Shawn Bradley, who was nevertheless a pretty good player, KP might almost be too tall for the game,” Jackson went on to point out. “What I mean is that his core strength might never be good enough, and that he might not be able to get low enough to get himself into prime defensive position to body power rebounders or drivers.”


Carmelo Anthony to play 5-on-5 later this month

Carmelo Anthony’s chances of making the Team USA roster may depend on his health … or perhaps not.

Anthony is one of 34 players attempting to crack the 12-man roster to compete on the 2016 Olympics team, which will be decided in about 10 months. As far as Melo’s torn patellar tendon injury goes, it won’t be an issue.

“I don’t think it will be factor,’’ Anthony said, via the New York Post. “Coach K has seen me, that I’m healthy and in great place.’’

“I’d take him anywhere,’’ Coach K added. “He’s been committed since 2004 — he and LeBron. Carmelo is a great guy, not just a great player. In the first meeting (Monday night), looking at the group, he’s so excited to be here — a kid in a candy store. That’s pretty darn good. … (James), Melo, Chris, they are USA Basketball.”

As far as the recovery goes, Anthony has yet to be cleared to scrimmage. He sat out the Blue-White intrasquad event on Thursday night, but plans to begin five-on-five competition later this month, according the report.

Sam Spiegelman

Well, ‘Melo seems more excited for Team USA than he does for the upcoming Knicks season, but let’s not that overshadow the real news here.

Anthony should be able to scrimmage in game-like situations by the end of August, another positive development proving he’ll be ready for the start of the 2015-16 season.

In Las Vegas, Anthony did some non-contact work and was limited to one-on-one and two-on-two competition, but was nearing full-contact workouts.


Charles Barkley praises Phil Jackson and Knicks’ offseason

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

As the Knicks struggled through the worst campaign in franchise history last season, Turner Sports analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was notoriously critical. As the team was bounced from multiple national television appearances, Barkley mocked them for it. In the games that the Knicks actually remained on national television, Barkley used that opportunity to criticize them even more.

And while Phil Jackson and Co. failed to reel in any marquee free agents this summer, Barkley surprisingly isn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon with those who consider this offseason a failure.

Instead, he’s impressed.

“I actually disagree with all of the criticisms people are giving the Knicks,” he said in an interview during NBA TV’s season schedule release special on Wednesday.

“I think the Knicks should be on national television. They actually got NBA players,” Barkley said, adding that most of the players the team employed last season deserved to be playing overseas or in the D-League.

As fate would have it, Barkley isn’t simply dishing out praise just to be different. He also gave out specifically examples, praising the acquisitions of Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Arron Afflalo.

“I give Phil Jackson credit. He didn’t get any high-profile players. But Robin Lopez is a heck of a player. And I said the same thing about Jerian Grant, the kid from Notre Dame,” he added. “Arron Afflalo’s been a solid player in this league.”

As for other reasons to be hopeful, Barkley pointed out, “They’re going to get Carmelo [Anthony] back. [Kristaps] Porzingis is going to be a good player. Maybe not right away, but he’s going to be a good player.”

While the Knicks missed out on the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, and other marquee names, perhaps it’s for the best. Adding the players they did will give the team an opportunity to be competitive while also maintaining some flexibility for the future.

The pressure is on Anthony to lead this team. It’s up to him to determine what direction the team goes in. Phil Jackson has, for the most part, held up his end of the bargain so far. That said, the free agent acquisitions he made were all signed to reasonable (Lopez and Kyle O’Quinn) and/or short-term (Afflalo, Derrick Williams, and Kevin Serpaphin) pacts. There will be room to improve, should Anthony not be able to find success with this group. It’ll be interesting to see if he remains a part of the plan after that.

But as Barkley puts it, there’s reason to be hopeful and optimistic right now.



5 most intriguing Knicks games in 2015-16

Sam Spiegelman

The New York Knicks 2015-16 schedule has officially been released.

For the first time since in years, the Knicks lack much primetime excitement. The team won’t play on Christmas for the first time since 2008. Such comes with the territory of suffering a franchise-worst 17-65 a year ago.

As the Knicks aim to right the ship this coming year, let’s look ahead to the five most intriguing games of the 2015-16 season.

1. Oct. 28 @ Milwaukee Bucks

In the Knicks’ season-opener, they face Greg Monroe and the free-agent target they taught they had before the offseason even got underway.

Monroe spurned the Knicks to join up with coach Jason Kidd and the Bucks, leaving Robin Lopez as a Plan B at center. Monroe wanted money — not just fame — and got so elsewhere other than the Big Apple.

2. Nov. 2 vs. San Antonio

Let’s keep with the free agent theme. The Knicks wanted LaMarcus Aldridge, who instead opted to become the next face of the San Antonio Spurs.

Aldridge canceled a second meeting with the Knicks brass, largely because the team wanted him to shift over to center with No. 4 overall draft pick Kristaps Porzingis slotted to play power forward.

The Knicks get to face a stacked Spurs team with Aldridge at the Garden to begin their November schedule.

3. Nov. 8 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Perhaps Kobe Bryant’s final game at Madison Square Garden will take place when the Knicks and Lakers meet for the first of two regular-season contests.

Bryant may be playing his final NBA season and has had no shortage of memorable games at the Knicks’ expense. We can only wonder what Kobe has in store for what is likely his last hurrah in front of the New York crowd.

4. Nov. 13 vs. Cleveland

Speaking of memorable performances, LeBron James tends to do it big every time he steps onto the Garden court. He’ll definitely have Iman Shumpert by his side and likely J.R. Smith, too.

Shumpert and Smith will be returning to New York for the first time since they were traded from on Jan. of last season. Of course, the Cavs fell short against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals earlier this summer.

Perhaps if the Knicks are able to return to the playoffs as a No. 7 or 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, this could be a playoff preview.

5. Jan. 26 vs. Oklahoma City

There isn’t too much intrigue in this showdown in terms of playoff ramifications, but it could give the New York hopeful a firsthand look at one of the Knicks’ main targets in free agency.

Thunder star Kevin Durant is entering the final year of his contract and is likely to hit the free-agent market in the summer of 2016. After whiffing on a handful of big names this past summer, you can bet that Phil Jackson and the Knicks will put forth the full-court press to lure Durant to the Big Apple to be the team’s superstar opposite Carmelo Anthony.

The Garden crowd will likely show their full support of Durant when he faces their Knicks to let him know he’s welcome in New York City.