What will the Knicks expect from J.R. Smith this season?

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

At Friday’s press conference leading up to Monday’s media day, Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher expressed faith in Carmelo Anthony’s ability to thrive and lead his team in the triangle offense. What’s more, they were also optimistic about the contributions the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani (among others) stand to make this season, after fighting off nagging injuries in recent years.

But alas, there was no immediate mention of J.R. Smith, New York’s second-leading scorer the past two seasons. Over the course of his coaching tenure with the Knicks, one of the more glowing praises Mike Woodson received surrounded his ability to get through to Smith, motivate him on the court, and bring out the best in him. 

With Woodson out of town, will the more disciplined Jackson and Fisher be as patient with Smith? Will they provide him the same opportunities? Will it even matter? The swingman’s role in the team’s offense this season remains to be defined.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks

In a lengthy interview with the New York Post this past week, Jackson discussed the possibility of being able to motivate Smith, saying, “I don’t know if that’s possible or not. He might be one of those guys that’s a little bit like Dennis Rodman that has an outlier kind of side to him. But I’m gonna get to know him as we go along, and we’ll find a way to either make him a very useful player on our organization, or whatever.”

Though he might not exactly be on the level of Rodman, Smith has certainly proven to be a wild card on and off the court. Still, Jackson was able to find a way to make Rodman effective. Perhaps he can help Coach Fisher do the same with Smith.

Though his comments don’t exactly ooze absolute confidence, it appears Jackson has an open mind going into the season. Regardless of whether or not he views Smith as the ideal running mate for Carmelo Anthony, the fact of the matter is that they may be forced to rely on him either way.

During free agent negotiations this past summer, Jackson told The Post that he and Anthony discussed how they’ll ensure the star forward is supported on offense.

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In case you missed it…

Phil Jackson said on Friday that the Knicks can make the playoffs this season. The Knicks won 37 games last year. >>> Read more at ESPN. 

James Dolan has stayed away from the Knicks, per GM Steve Mills, just as he agreed to when Phil Jackson took over as president of the team. >>> Read more at ESPN New York. 

Derek Fisher is a first-time head coach, but he has plenty of help in the organization. >>> Read more in the  Daily News


Phil hopes Rangers’ run serves as model for Knicks

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

Phil Jackson says he gets asked once a day on the streets of New York, “How long do we have to wait for a title?”

USATSI_7816138_110579513_lowresIt’s been 42 years since the Zenmaster and the Knicks won their last NBA title in 1973, and the team is coming off a season in which it failed to make the playoffs.

Jackson, who is making $12 million a year to revive his old team, is preaching patience and won’t make any guarantees. But he points to the Knicks’ fellow Garden tenant — the Rangers — for inspiration.

“That’s a question I get approached right on the street all the time by folks that are Knickerbocker fans, that want to know how long do we have to wait?” Jackson said Friday. “We hope it’s expedient. We have it right next door.”

Presumably he meant the Rangers, who reached the Stanley Cup Finals last season before falling to the L.A. Kings.

Still, Jackson says Knicks fans shouldn’t expect a title run right away, especially while LeBron James still lives in the Eastern Conference.

“Usually teams come into the playoffs, learn from being in the playoffs and gradually assume capabilities of carrying out the championship,” he said. “I was fortunate to have a situation in L.A. where a team had gone to – or into the playoffs – they had been swept a couple of times in the playoff run, but they had been in the midst of the playoffs and were able to win the very first year that I coached that team there, which was a ready made team basically with tremendous talent. Very similar situation in Chicago.

“This [Knicks] team has not got a personality – over 35 percent of its’ team has changed. So we still have to kind of come together in a bonding way that creates trust, teamwork, identity, some things like that. So we’re about going through this process and enjoying the process and the journey that we go through. We believe that we’re going to be a playoff team and then we don’t know how far we’ll be able to go. We’re hoping for the best.”

Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider for NBA.com and SNY.tv. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

Phil Jackson says it will take 45 wins to make playoffs in East

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

With LeBron James’s move to Cleveland highlighting a series of dramatic changes in the Eastern Conference, Phil Jackson says he believes the East will “flatten out” this year.

Derek FIsher announced as CoachInstead of having two dominant teams in Indiana and Miami, Jackson believes there will be more parity and it will take 45-46 wins to make the playoffs out of the East.

“I see it flattening out the Eastern Conference, dispersing the talent around a little bit because of the advent of [Kevin] Love, obviously, LeBron in Cleveland, changes the conference from having two teams that were below or around .500 to having probably all eight teams having to be above 45-46 wins to get into the playoffs,” the Zenmaster said Friday. “So it’s going to change how that goes.”

A year ago, Indiana was the No. 1 seed with 56 wins and LeBron and Miami were No. 2 at 54. Four teams had more than 45 wins — Indiana, Miami, Toronto and Chicago — while four had fewer and still made the postseason. The Hawks were the No. 8 seed in the East with 38 wins, edging out the Knicks, who had 37.

This year, Cleveland and Chicago figure to be the class of the East, while the Knicks battle with Miami, Indiana, Washington, Toronto, Charlotte, Atlanta and the Nets for playoff positioning.

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Orlando Sanchez confident he’ll find success in triangle offense

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

The Knicks currently have fifteen players with guaranteed contracts on their roster. This will likely present those on the outside looking in with an uphill battle as they compete for a respective spot.

Nevertheless, former St. John’s standout (and recent New York training camp invitee) Orlando Sanchez is confident he’ll find success in the Knicks’ triangle offense (New York Post, September 24).

“I think my game fits the triangle very well,’’ Sanchez told The Post. “I’ve picked it up quickly so far. My ability to shoot, handle and pass shows in this offense. I would like to make the Knicks roster out of camp, but I also understand going to Westchester is a possibility. I think it would be a positive situation, because the team will practice at the Knicks facility and I can develop with the coaching staff.’’

Being ambitious is never a bad thing. There’s certainly reason for Sanchez to be optimistic, as his impressive court-vision, steady instincts, and precision passing (stellar for a player his size) are sure to help the Knicks’ open things up offensively. His skill-set is undoubtedly unique.

But as Sanchez suggests, one possibility for him, should he be cut following training camp, is donning a Westchester Knics uniform in the NBA D-League soon after. Already a local favorite having played for the Red Storm, the 26 year old also attended Monroe College (in Westchester) prior to his time at St. John’s.

The forward has already begun learning the ins and outs of the triangle, as The Post reports many of the Knicks’ players are getting down to business at the team’s training facility in Westchester.

The Knicks Blog Podcast: Kenny Anderson calls in

Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton welcome former Net and New York City basketball legend Kenny Anderson to the show. The guys discuss this year’s Knicks team, and make a wager on the team’s playoff hopes.

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For the show rundown, click here...

  • Reaction to Ant’s interview Jeff Van Gundy
  • Phil Jackson’s comments towards Tyson Chandler
  • Twitter Q&A
  • Kenny Anderson interview (18:30)
  • New York City point guards