Tonight’s Game: Knicks at Raptors, 7 p.m.

New York travels across the border for a matchup with the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre for a 7:00 p.m. tip.

New York was swept in a home-and-home earlier in the season by Toronto.

This will be the third of four games versus Toronto this season. Toronto travels back to New York on Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 for the season’s

The Knicks and Raptors split the season series last year 2-2, with each team going 1-1 on its home court.

Projected starters:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • J.R. Smith
  • Tyson Chandler
  • Amar’e Stoudemire
  • Raymond Fleton


Mike Woodson believes Knicks’ season would’ve been different with Andrea Bargnani healthy

Sam Spiegelman

When your days as head coach of the Knicks are numbered, I guess you don’t need a rime or reason with what comments you make.

Such is the case with Mike Woodson, whose Knicks went from No. 2 seed in the East last season to missing the big dance altogether this year. One of the reasons why, he explained, is the absence of Andrea Bargnani.

Right, the missing piece of the puzzle. Hmm.

Prior to getting injured, the Knicks’ offseason acquisition was shooting 44 percent from the floor and 28 percent from beyond the arc, despite chucking up 102 3-point attempts in 42 games. He was averaging 5.3 rebounds and 13.3 points, and was also a defensive liability.

A lot of things did not go the Knicks’ way. Carmelo Anthony had arguably his best season, but did not get support from his surrounding cast. Tyson Chandler battled injuries early on in the season and was in and out of the lineup. J.R. Smith was unable to perform on a consistent basis — and the same goes for the rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert.

Other offseason additions Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih are no longer even with the team, so clearly they did not pan out as anticipated.

For Woodson to blame the Knicks’ decline on Bargnani is just silly. It’s completely false, and a little bit laughable.

Better reasons for the downfall would be the front office’s poor offseason decisions, Woodson’s coaching or players not performing up to par. I guess the latter could include Bargnani, but his play had been on the way down the past few years in Toronto, so the Knicks should have realized it would be a project coaching him back to a high level.

Missing piece? Please

Carmelo Anthony will play tonight vs. Raptors

Speaking with the media Carmelo Anthony said that he hasn’t had any additional tests on his right shoulder because no matter what they tell him he’s not sitting out (Iannazzone on Twitter).

Harris Decker

I love this from Carmelo Anthony. People can say that he’s “not a winner” and to that I say this guy probably can’t move his shoulder and has no doubts about playing tonight. He added that “Until the numbers say we’re eliminated, I’m not going to sit out.” As a Knicks fan, that just makes me happy. He might might stay or he might go but I’m proud that Anthony wants to fight.

With Hawks magic number at 2, it’s a make or break night for the Knicks

Harris Decker

bargnani-2502Friday night could be the last relevant night of basketball for the Knicks in 2013-14, as they travel to Toronto to face the Raptors, while the Hawks are in Brooklyn against the Nets. It’s ironic that it comes down to one night, with these four teams involved.

Before the season began, then-general manager Glen Grunwald traded Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and three draft picks to the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani. The former-first round pick was viewed by most in a positive light. He was a pick and pop shooter who could knock down shots from 3-point land. Somewhere between nearly costing the Knicks a win against the Bucks and him injuring his elbow, he fell out of favor with Knicks fans. All he is now is a guy who cost the Knicks draft picks and room under the cap.

The unlikely Atlantic Division winners, the Raptors will play a key role in settling the eight seed.

The Nets obviously were supposed to be the ‘other team’ in the Atlantic Division. Most New York basketball fans, whether from Brooklyn, Manhattan or the surrounding suburbs, had dreams of the coming match up between the teams settling the division, winning it for one of them. Things did not go as planned for either team. The Nets had just as bad a first half as the Knicks, but have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA since. They head into the playoffs as the five seed.

We are left with the Knicks and Hawks. Neither deserves to make the playoffs, yet we all know that one will. The Hawks magic number heading into Friday night is two. That means that a Knicks loss and a Hawks win officially eliminates the Knicks from the playoffs. Do the Knicks have at least one more game left in the tank? We’ll find out tonight.

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?