Mailbag: Is J.R. Smith the Knicks best triangle player?

From KnicksTape: I know this sounds crazy, but do you think JR Smith could be a better player to build a triangle offense around and the Knicks should try to sign and trade Melo instead of resigning him.

Harris Decker

A few days ago on the TKB Podcast, we first raised this question from KnicksTape. It stuck in my head and I wanted to discuss it in full.

What this question tells me, above all else, is that Knicks fans are still learning what is involved in the triangle offense. The system requires players with the ability to shoot from outside, shoot from inside, pass and cut.

That makes J.R. Smith a perfect piece in the triangle. The only area that Smith isn’t above-average in is passing.

I believe that if Smith is a part of Phil Jackson’s long term plan, he and Iman Shumpert can and will flourish. The system was designed with players like those two in mind. Fast, tall guards that can shoot inside and out. Smith’s ability to consistently knock down outside shots should be fun to watch.

That being said, saying that Smith is the “better player to build a triangle offense around” is silly. Carmelo Anthony is the best player on the Knicks and the ideal triangle big. He can play in both the inside and outside spots, with the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court. The attention that he will draw in the post will help to setup the rest of the triangle. Finding a big that has those qualities is much harder to find.

Without Anthony, Smith and Shumpert would be far less effective. You need the big guy who can shoot to set the entire triangle up. Smith can be a great player in the triangle but if you’re thinking about building around a player in that system, Anthony has to be the priority player.

TheKnicksBlog Podcast: Playoff hopes are fading fast

On this week’s show – Moke Hamilton and Harris Decker discuss the Knicks’ fading playoff hopes and react to recent comments made by Larry Brown. The guys also welcome Howard Beck of Bleacher Report to the show for his take on Mike Woodson’s sinking ship, the struggles of the Indiana Pacers, and the success of the Brooklyn Nets.

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For the show rundown, click here...

  • Moke and Harris say hello
  • Playoff hopes are fading fast
  • Larry Brown rips Knicks management
  • Let’s get our “Weekly Phil” (16:37)
  • Howard Beck of Bleacher Report calls in (22:00)
  • TKB Mailbag (32:23)
  • Around the League
    • Los Angeles Clippers
    • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Moke and Harris say goodbye

Isiah Thomas, best draft-day GM?

Was Isiah Thomas the best GM during the NBA draft? A new metric says so.

ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh ranks Thomas as the best draft-day GM, with picks like Trevor Ariza, David Lee, Wilson Chandler and, to an extent, Nate Robinson (Begley, April 8).

“Thomas put up an outstanding hit rate in the draft, no matter where he picked. His run of lottery picks in Toronto should be the stuff of lore. He started off by getting Damon Stoudamire with the No. 7 pick in 1995. Then with the No. 2 pick in 1996, he grabbed Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. The following year in 1997, he nabbed some high schooler named Tracy McGrady at No. 9,” Haberstroh said.

Mailbag: Ask TKB

Have a question about the Knicks? Want to know where Moke Hamilton and Carmelo Anthony shop together for watches? Want to know where Harris gets his kicks? Curious about the Knicks in 2016-17? Why not ask The Knicks Blog staff? Ask us a question below and we will answer select questions each week on both The Knicks Blog Podcast and right here on the blog!

Former Knicks coach Larry Brown criticizes team, says Mike Woodson was treated unfairly

Sam Spiegelman

Larry Brown and the New York Knicks didn’t exactly have a clean breakup. Apparently, the longtime NBA coach and current SMU head man isn’t exactly fond of the organization’s treatment of Mike Woodson either.

In an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio, Brown made a case that new team president Phil Jackson should give Woodson a chance to leave “graciously,” citing Woodson’s efforts to turn around the franchise:

“I’m sick about what’s happening with Michael (Woodson),” Brown said of Woodson. “The whole thing about the Knicks, I want the Knicks to be great, because the NBA needs it badly. They have the best fans.”

“He’s out on the limb and that’s not fair,” Brown added. “For a guy that really turned that franchise around and made people proud of the way they played, I don’t think he’s been treated fairly, and that really bothers me.”

“I think he went [18-6] when he took over that team two years ago. And then last year they won 54 games. I think from 2001 they might’ve won one playoff series. He’s done a remarkable job. 

“They’ve had terrible injuries. They lost a GM (Glen Grunwald) that I thought did a great job. And then they didn’t bring any older guys. When you lose Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace, you lost your locker room. He did a lot for that team, and that’s unfortunate — I don’t think you treat people like that. And in the long run there is bad karma when you do that.”

If the Knicks are to make a change at head coach, which is expected to be the case this offseason, Brown nominated Jackson.

Jackson has already stated he has no plans to return to the sidelines. In fact, reports indicate NBA analyst and former Bulls point guard Steve Kerr is the frontrunner at this point. But Brown isn’t convinced Jackson can be an asset to the organization if he’s spending half of his time on the West Coast.

“Let him coach,” Brown said of Jackson. “You’re not going to make the Knicks better by living in L.A. and being there half the time and not talking to your coach. Let him coach. He was the best coach probably ever. Let him coach. If that’s the way they want to do it, let him coach and give Woody a way to leave graciously.”

It seems like Brown is just backing a friend and former colleague in Woodson, but at the same time he’s putting unfair pressure on Jackson.

Your thoughts, Knicks fans?

Heading into this week, Hawks magic number sits at 3

Harris Decker

Iman Shumpert, Anthony TolliverThis is an interesting week for the Knicks and the Hawks. As I wrote about last week, the Knicks have four off days while the Hawks make up the two games that separated the team’s records. What sucks for the Knicks is that their competition this week has even less to play for.

Tonight, the Hawks face the Detroit Pistons, who have won just 28 games, good for eighth worst in the NBA. Tomorrow it gets even worse, as they take on the Boston Celtics who have lost eight in a row and have the fourth worst record in the league. Neither of these teams, the Pistons or the Celtics, should want to win. They are in tank mode and that could spell the end for the 2013-14 Knicks.

The Hawks play has been about as nauseating as the Knicks. The roller coaster season has continued as of late. They blew out the Pacers on Sunday but couldn’t keep it close against the Bulls earlier in the week. The wins are coming at the right time for the Hawks.

Now, theit magic number is down to three.

Any combination of three Hawks wins or Knicks losses and New York will be officially eliminated from the playoffs. As chance would have it, I’m guessing that somehow, someway, the Knicks will be able stay alive into next week. All I ask is that the knockout blow not come at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, who they face one week from today.

It was fun while it lasted, but Knicks’ playoff hopes all but dead

Sam Spiegelman

Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Miami Heat all but buried the New York Knicks and their chances of making the playoffs this season.

The eight-game win streak, defeating the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets, and temporarily occupying the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference instilled hope in all of us. But reality kicked in a harsh way, as Carmelo Anthony’s shoulder injury and a two-game deficit behind the Atlanta Hawks essentially closes the book on the Knicks’ 2013-14 season.

With two weeks remaining in the NBA’s regular season, the Hawks host Detroit and Boston before traveling to Brooklyn. They close out the season against Miami, Charlotte and Milwaukee. Given how the team has played against Cleveland and Indiana this past weekend, only the game against the Heat looks like a loss.

The Knicks, on the other hand, coming off losses to the defending champs and Wizards, have four games remaining — two against Toronto, as well as Chicago and Brooklyn. Sure, the games are “winnable” in theory, but the hole the team has created over the weekend is likely too great to overcome. The Knicks would need to go 4-0 while the Hawks undergo a monumental breakdown.

In order for the Knicks to play that well, Melo would need to be healthy. And he’s clearly not.

The deep bruise or sprain of his right shoulder has obviously effected the All-Star, as he scored 23 points over the past two games. I mean, he’s scoring 27.5 points per game, so he’s got to be hurting pretty badly.

It’s a tough way for the Knicks to end their season. Their super star, an impending free agent, is in pain and his squad will be watching the playoffs from their couches. Whether ‘Melo even plays these final four games is in question, and if he doesn’t, then did he just play his last game in the blue and orange in another loss to LeBron James and Co.? Will that be his final memory of being a part of the Knicks?

The Knicks’ season is over. And with playoff hopes ended, are fans just hoping the team can retain Anthony?

J.R. Smith continues electric run, sets Knicks record for 3′s

Harris Decker

J.R. SmithJ.R. Smith was the lone bright spot for the Knicks during their Sunday afternoon loss to the Heat yesterday. In fact, Smith has been electric for a few weeks now and that culminated with his Knicks record 10 3′s made on an NBA record 22 attempts.

Finishing with 32 points, Smith was absolutely brilliant from outside. He has the unique ability to hit really good shots and really bad shots. While many think of him as a bad shot taker, he has been really good about shot selection as of late.

Over the past nine game, Smith is averaging 21.8 points, a big increase over his season average of 14.2. During that run, Smith has shot an incredible 49% from the field and 44% from behind the arc. His 3-point shooting percentage this season has been 39%.

What’s amazing about this run is how it contrasts from the early season struggles for Smith. In fact, 12 of his top 18 scoring games this season have come in 2014. He started the season with questions about the health of his knee and now those concerns seem to have been cast aside and he’s shooting freely and hitting big shots.

There were a few instances during this stretch when Smith was the only guy who could answer the call. Even during yesterdays game against the Heat, there was a stretch when Smith continuously responded to Lebron James shots with big 3′s of his own. He was a one man run stopper while Carmelo Anthony struggled mightily.

Smith’s season has been a microcosm of the Knicks as a whole. He’s been red hot at times and lost at times. We’re lucky enough to be witnessing him through a hot stretch right now and while it might not push the Knicks into the playoffs, he’s certainly making the case to Phil Jackson that he can fit into the triangle offense which will need some guys who can breakdown defenses and hit shots from outside.

With hope slipping away, making the postseason was a big deal

Harris Decker

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Just two games ago, the Knicks had a chance to take over sole possession of the 8th seed in the East. Instead, the Hawks spent the night blowing out the Cavaliers while the Knicks lost a heartbreaker to the Wizards.

Carmelo AnthonySunday, on national television, the Heat drove a second stake through their heart, blowing out the Knicks 102-91. It was just one more loss in a disappointing season, but it felt like the end. While the Knicks remain alive, their magic number is getting smaller and smaller.

What is setting in right at this moment is why the playoffs meant so much to me and the rest of New York. This year, the Knicks are facing a season in which the Denver Nuggets will be using their first round draft pick while the Knicks wait for Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract to expire after next season. There isn’t much to look forward to in the next calendar year and the playoffs would have been the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

I wanted the playoffs. I wanted them just to help ease the pain of what will be a long offseason. Even if the Knicks were bounced in the first round, it would have made heading into a hopeless offseason easier to swallow. You could say things like: “At least they made the playoffs.” Or “Look how resilient the team was making the playoffs after being so many games back!” Instead, we’re going to head into the summer without any draft picks, without a playoff berth and with a whole lot of rebuilding ahead.

Call me naive, but making the playoffs was important to me this year. The team let me down and even though there is still a glimmer of hope, the fun of this season was sucked out of my veins sometime over the weekend.