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.


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Jul 14, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forward Cleanthony Early (17) forward Maurice Ndour (55) and guard Jerian Grant (13) celebrate after scoring on a play against the 76ers during an NBA Summer League game at Thomas & Mack Center. The Knicks won the game in overtime, 84-81. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks’ 2015-16 schedule released

The New York Knicks open the 2015-16 season on the road vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 28, then host the Atlanta Hawks in their home-opener at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 29.

New York has just seven nationally televised games this season, down from last year’s 16.

The Knicks do not play on Christmas Day this season.

They host the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Jan. 31, 2016, and the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 13 and March 26, 2016.


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Mar 2, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim watches the action during the second half of a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Carrier Dome. Virginia won the game 59-47. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Boeheim reiterates Melo should’ve gone to Chicago

Jim Boeheim, Carmelo Anthony’s coach at Syracuse, reiterated he thinks Melo should have signed with the Chicago Bulls instead of re-signing with the Knicks (Aug. 12).

“It’s the truth,” Boeheim said.

Boeheim said last August he thought Anthony would have been better suited to play with better players like Derrick Rose in Chicago than start something new in New York.

“Just from a basketball point of view it would have been better to go to Chicago … but he wanted to be in New York and he wants to see if they can turn it around there. I think that’s a great thing,” Boeheim said last year (Aug. 18, 2014).

Anthony re-signed a five-year, $124 million max deal last offseason.

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

It’s not always relevant to worry about what outsiders may say or think about a given situation.

Still, it’s worth noting that Anthony and Coach Boeheim maintain a very strong relationship. They’re also spending time together this week at USA Basketball practice, where the forward’s college coach is serves as an assistant.

Anthony surely consults with an intimate group of people when he makes decisions. One would have to believe Boeheim is, at least, sometimes a part of that. To know that he may have been in Anthony’s ear telling him to leave New York (perhaps he still is. That would have to be accomplished via trade.) could potentially be concerning for the Knicks.

Having said that, Anthony made the decision to stay, despite this, and continues to reiterate his support for Phil Jackson and his grand plan.


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Apr 15, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots a free throw during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Trail Blazers 114-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Commitment to Porzingis turned Aldridge away from Knicks

With their selection of Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks may have cost themselves signing LaMarcus Aldridge, the Daily News reports (Aug. 11).

Aldridge, who signed with the Spurs, was supposed to talk with the Knicks, but canceled his meeting with president Phil Jackson.

According to Aldridge, the Knicks wanted him to play center and not his natural position of power forward, to accommodate Porzingis.

“They were saying they wanted me to be more of a center to let their guy [Porzingis] develop and I just wasn’t looking to be that,” Aldridge said. “So I was looking to play power forward, and they weren’t really interested.”

Added Aldridge: “If they’re going to tell me that I have to play center and I don’t want to play center, then of course it’s mutual after that. But before that I was excited to meet with them. I was interested. But they wanted to have their draft pick play and I get it.”

Aldridge signed a four-year, $80 million contract to play in San Antonio.

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Aldridge wasn’t the only one confused about the Knicks’ priorities when it came to drafting Porzingis. While his selection was undoubtedly a good one, it also sent mixed messages to those who believed they were in win-mode now and wanted to go all in by reeling in ample support for Carmelo Anthony as the centerpiece.

The new Spurs’ big man would have been perfect for New York. Even dating back to NBA All-Star Weekend in the Big Apple this past February, Aldridge was content making his intrigue with the triangle offense known.

Whereas Porzingis may not figure to make much of an impact during his rookie year, any pact Aldridge would have signed with the Knicks would have been over the next four seasons. He, too, obviously would have been an investment into their future. If New York were hoping to integrate Porzingis into their system, that would have meant the two would need to play alongside one another either way. In the interest in reeling in a true superstar, however, perhaps the Knicks could have played around (at the least broaching the subject) with the idea of Porzingis playing the five. After all, he did so at NBA Summer League last month.

Still just 30 years old, Aldridge is clearly in his prime. By the time his prospective contract would have ended, the younger Porzingis would have still been just 24 years old. The Knicks likely could have made it work if they really wanted to. Perhaps they believed playing him “out” of position next to Aldridge would have sacrificed Porzingis’ development a bit.

The fact that Aldridge is going out of his way to explain and reveal this much suggests he had legitimate interest in coming to New York if the situation were right. The team failed to accommodate him.


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Feb 6, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts against the Brooklyn Nets during the third quarter at Barclays Center. The Nets defeated the Knicks 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Melo weighs in on Knicks’ offseason

Carmelo Anthony, who is attending the Team USA Olympic minicamp, gave some thoughts on Tuesday regarding the Knicks’ offseason (Aug. 11).

On the moves that were made during the offseason, Anthony praised Phil Jackson.

“Honestly, I thought we did a great job as far as putting the pieces we needed to put together,” Anthony Said. “We didn’t t get DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus [Aldridge], [Greg] Monroe, but [Robin Lopez] is a great addition. [Arron] Afflalo I played with a long time [in Denver]. [Kyle] O’Quinn is a great pickup, guys will like him as a big. Derrick Williams, we’ll get him right. He seemed focused. And then our rookies — [Porzingis], I had him last week with me working out at my gym. We’re trying to start this thing off right.”

Anthony said the report that he was displeased with the Tim Hardaway, Jr. trade was untrue, and noted that he was bothered by the false report.

“You know why I’m bothered by that?,” Anthony said. “Because I haven’t said none of it. That’ why I’m bothered. It’s always speculation. I try to use summer to myself and get away from the media. Then somehow it comes back to me. I don’t get upset at that, but does it get overwhelming sometimes, yeah. But it’s the life I live. I haven’t said none of that [bleep]. Whatever rumors you guys heard about me and Phil, about Porzingis, it’s all false. Nobody talked to me. Nobody heard me say anything as far as me being unhappy. Life is too good to be unhappy.”

Anthony is still recovering from knee surgery, but said the plan is for him to ramp up his activity later this month.


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Knicks close to hiring Spurs D-League assistant to coach Westchester

The Knicks are close to hiring Spurs D-League assistant Mike Miller to become the new head coach of the Westchester Knicks (Isola, Aug. 11).

Miller, 51, has spent the majority of his coaching career at the collegiate level. He has been serving as an assistant with the Austin Toros of the D-League since 2013.

Last season Westchester head coach Kevin Whitted was fired in March after a sluggish start and replaced by Craig Hodges on an interim basis. Hodges was not retained after the team finished the season with a 10-40 record.

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

If this comes to fruition, it’ll be a very good move — an educated, basketball related one, at that. Last season, Coach Whitted, a college friend of Allan Houston, found his campaign filled with tension from multiple angles.

Coach Miller is widely considered one of, if not the, best assistant coach in the D-League. That notion is only further supported by the fact that he’s currently employed by the Spurs’ organization. Isola also reports that Miller boasts certain ties to original triangle offense maven Tex Winter.  As they look to develop young talent, it’s imperative New York employs someone who can help in that effort from the ground up. Perhaps Coach Miller will better understand what they’re trying to do.

Given his experience and relationships across the league, it wouldn’t be surprising for the D-League assistant to add someone else with head coaching to his staff.

 


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Feb 14, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Eastern Conference forward Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks (7) addresses the media during practice at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Melo interacts with fans on Instagram

While interacting with fans over his Instagram account this afternoon, Carmelo Anthony hinted that he is in fact happy with the direction the Knicks offseason has gone (Begley, Aug. 11).

A fan questioned Anthony’s love for the game and desire to be here in New York.

“Shows how little you know about me. Staying in NY shows that I do care. If I would have left, what would you have said then? “Oh, Melos wack for leaving. He turned his back on NY,” Anthony said. “You are stuck with me buddy. Deal with it. If you want me gone, I’ll personally walk you into the front office so you can plead your case of the Knicks trading me. Hope you have bail money because they might have you arrested for Disturbing the Peace.”

One Anthony supporter wrote that he “shouldn’t listen to the negativity” and should “trust the process” because the Knicks are going in the right direction.

Anthony’s response was “Best thing I’ve heard all day.”

Much has been made of Anthony’s opinion to the offseason moves the Knicks have made. It is expected that Anthony will publicly address the media for the first time this week in Las Vegas during Team USA minicamp.

One user asked why he chooses to engage with his critics on Instagram, Anthony said, “This is therapeutic for me.”


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