New York Knicks: Should we be worried about RJ Barrett’s development?

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

After starting the 2021 season with a bang, the New York Knicks are quickly falling back to earth. They’ve lost their last three games, scoring no more than 89 points in each of them. Their third consecutive loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday evening was another disappointing performance, as their defense allowed 109 points, and their offense was simply lackluster.

Star power forward Julius Randle finished with just 11 points, a strange performance from a player who has dominated to start the year. Teams are quickly figuring out that as long as they stop Randle, the Knicks will simply beat themselves with poor shooting and inadequate defense.

However, second-year guard RJ Barrett has struggled to find his groove so far, scoring 11 points on the night, shooting 5-for-18, and missing all five of his three-point attempts.

“Just a tough game, another tough game,” Barrett said. “As long as we have 72 of them, every night’s not gonna be your night. Just gotta get back to the lab.

“As a team, we’ve got to just figure this out. We’ve played at a high level before and know we can do it. Just gotta get back to it.”

Barrett has been inconsistent, displaying signs of stardom and then disappearing for games on end. The Knicks need him to take a step forward in his development, but so far, he has lacked the ability to shoot efficiently and has played bad defense.

“We just have to get back to work. We started the game slowly, got in a big hole, fought to get out of it and then fell back in the hole the second half. We’ve got to regroup,” Thibodeau said. “I think as a team we’re just not shooting well right now. Sometimes you’ve got to work your way through those things.”

The New York Knicks are young and have time on their side:

This loss isn’t the end for New York, as they still have a long season ahead of them. As the team continues to develop chemistry with one another, I expect players like Barrett to increase their efficiency. This year, he’s averaged 16.5 points per game, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He’s been adequate with the ball in his hands regarding turnovers, only averaging 1.7 per game over 38.2 minutes.

Ultimately, as long as Barrett struggles from the field, he will never take that next step forward to make him an above-average player in the NBA. As I stated before, he shows flashes of greatness on occasion, but it is a rare occurrence. Luckily, Barrett is still extremely young at 20 years old, so he has plenty of time to reach his potential.

Did the UFC make a mistake bumping Leon Edwards from UFC Fight Island 8?

Leon Edwards

UFC Fight Island 8 was supposed to feature the much anticipated welterweight matchup between Leon Edwards (18-3) and Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). While their rankings wouldn’t suggest it, it was the perfect fight for both men.

Edwards is ranked third while Chimaev is ranked 15th. However, Chimaev has become a massive star and Edwards need to get the rub from someone with so much hype. In my opinion, it would have been good either way for the UFC.

The fight was originally supposed to take place in December, but it was scrapped after Edwards tested positive for COVID. They rescheduled for Fight Island 8, but that was cancelled after Chimaev couldn’t train properly after he came down with COVID.

The UFC kicked the tires with leaving Edwards on the card. “Rocky” hasn’t fought since July of 2019. He’s riding a eight-fight winning streak and he’s clearly one of the best fighters in the world.

At this point, Edwards just needs to get back in the octagon. However, the UFC decided to take him off the card and try to book the Chimaev fight a third time. While I love that matchup, did the promotion make a mistake?

Did the UFC make a mistake?

The UFC‘s reasoning for trying to rebook the fight is simply they feel it’s a fight that everyone wants to see. Another thing that goes into it is the fight that the promotion has had a helluva time booking either man for a fight.

It seemed nobody wanted to fight either Chimaev or Edwards outside of Neil Magny (24-7). Magny offered to face Chimaev after Edwards fell out then he said he would fight Edwards in the main event of UFC Fight Island 8.

Of course, Magny is already scheduled to take on Michael Chiesa (17-4). Edwards told the promotion that he would fight either Chiesa or Magny if it meant that he could stay on the card since he hasn’t fought in so long.

In the end, the UFC said no. They want to keep the potential matchup with Chimaev together. However, while I definitely see their reasoning, I can’t say that I agree with it. I think they should have kept Edwards on the card.

Magny and Chiesa is now the main event and Chiesa is already promising it’s not going to be exciting. Not really want you want in your second main event of the year. The slot is great for both men, but it’s not a fight that promises action.

More importantly, Leon Edwards just needs to fight. We don’t know when Chimaev will be ready, but Edwards is pushing two years without a fight in the UFC. I know you don’t want to lose the Chimaev fight, but I think it was a mistake to bump Edwards from that slot next Wednesday.

3 players the New York Giants can cut for cap relief

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have some difficult decisions to make this off-season, as they look to open up salary space to sign players in free agency. During the annual press conference with owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman, they both insisted that upgrading the offense is a necessity.

Mara specifically said that resources will be allocated toward the upgrading of the unit, as quarterback Daniel Jones desperately needs more quality weapons to reach his potential in year three. The Giants are quickly running out of time on his rookie contract as they waste seasons, and injuries continue to plague the team. Jones saw a notable drop-off in quality from his rookie campaign, going from 24 touchdowns to 11 under OC Jason Garrett. While he did alleviate some of his turnover problems, seeing a decrease in interceptions and fumbles, he still lacks pocket awareness at times and makes inexcusable judgments.

However, providing DJ with better quality receivers who can win in man-coverage and separate from defenders should increase his efficiency and allow him to make better choices. Throwing into man-coverage can oftentimes lead to turnovers, as tight end Evan Engram can attest to. Five interceptions this past season on Jones were direct result of balls that bounced off Engram’s hands.

While Gettleman could utilize the draft to help Jones on offense, we shouldn’t rule out a potential free-agent signing. But first thing’s first, they have to find ways to open up cap space, especially with Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson still needing new deals.

Three players the New York Giants can cut for cap relief:

1.) Nate Solder

Solder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, which ultimately pushed his contract one year. He still has three years remaining on his deal, but the anticipation is that the Giants will cut him post-June 1. If they do so, they will save $10 million instead of $6 million if they cut him prior.

Considering the Giants allocated the fourth overall pick toward a left tackle this past year, the only way Solder sticks around is if he makes the transition to right tackle, and the Giants feel they can consume the money. However, I highly doubt they will hold onto his $16.5 million cap hit, so we should expect them to move on and gain a bit of relief.

2.) Golden Tate

Golden Tate is another player the Giants will likely move on from after posting 388 yards and two touchdowns this season. Gettleman essentially replaced Odell Beckham Jr. with Tate, who has had successful seasons in the past but is not a No.1 WR who can create ample separation. He’s more of a glorified slot receiver, and with Sterling Shepard at that position already, there was an influx of interior guys that like speed on the boundary.

There is an out in Tate’s contract after the 2020 season, which will count $4.7 million in dead cap. They would save about $6 million from cutting him and adding that tho Solder’s savings would open up $16 million to spend on either Leonard Williams or a potential wide receiver.

3.) Kevin Zeitler

While I don’t think the Giants should cut Kevin Zeitler, his contract indicates potential savings. This past season, he finished with a 65.9 overall grade, per PFF, the lowest in his entire career. However, he’s one of the most consistent linemen for the Giants, representing a fantastic pass blocker. Nonetheless, he has one year left on his contract and will count $14.5 million in 2021.

If the Giants cut him, they will save approximately $12 million, which is a ton of money, but they would be losing their best and most consistent lineman. Personally, I think it would be malpractice to let him go, as the Giants have multiple rookies on the line and can afford to pay their only above-average player.

If the Giants did cut all three of these players, they would open up $28 million in available money, which would be incredibly helpful given the circumstances due to COVID-19.

New York Mets: Offseason Moves Progressing As Expected

The New York Mets are still in a good spot after Liam Hendriks signed with the Chicago White Sox. Hendriks is the first big name to fall off the extremely slow-moving free-agent market. His signing leaves George Springer, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, and D.J. LeMahieu as the final big names looking for deals.

Hendriks was always on the Mets’ radar but was a “want” not a “need” for their bullpen. Their bullpen already had plenty of dominant hard-throwing righties, making left-hander Brad Hand a perfect fit for them. Once the Mets signed James McCann, they were already out on Realmuto. For the Mets’ sake, they hope Reamulto signs in the American League.

Two Controversial Figures

Trevor Bauer’s free agency went from something exciting to a Bauer-esque annoying, drawn-out episode. Bauer is commanding the highest AAV in baseball history, which has to make Jacob deGrom chuckle. If anyone deserves Bauer’s asking price, it is deGrom or current AAV record holder Gerrit Cole. After trading for Carlos Carrasco, the Mets are out on Bauer until the price becomes reasonable.

The Mets got a dynamic bat when they acquired Francisco Lindor, which brought George Springer’s future into question. Springer is also commanding a large deal, but the Mets also have huge contracts on their books. Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Lindor are some of the names that warrant contract extensions. Robinson Cano’s hefty contract is also a burden thanks to Brodie Van Wagenen and steroids.

The Mets are the only team that can afford to pay Springer his asking price. MLB’s uncertainty with the designated hitter also puts the Mets in a tough roster situation. Despite the questions surrounding the roster, the Mets are still the front runner for Springer.

The Silent Assassin

It takes a lot to frustrate D.J. LeMahieu, but the New York Yankees did it. Whether the anger is real or a hardball tactic, LeMahieu urged his agent to reach out to a handful of teams, including the Mets. LeMahieu is a huge wild card for the Mets because there technically is nowhere for him to play on the infield.

Obviously, LeMahieu is better than J.D. Davis and the Mets would make a trade if he was signed. Davis is too valuable to keep on the bench and becomes the odd man if LeMahieu signs. Opening the wallet for LeMahieu would benefit the offense and defense more than signing Springer. LeMahieu is the better hitter, and the Mets can settle with signing Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar.

Even though all three players have different odds to join the Mets, you can throw those away with Steve Cohen as the owner.

 

Yankees News: The perfect backup plan if ‘dismayed’ DJ LeMahieu leaves in free agency

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

As most of you have heard, the New York Yankees are in danger of losing star infielder DJ LeMahieu. He’s becoming fed up with general manager Brian Cashman taking his good old time in offering him a reasonable contract extension. The Yankees are settled in at four years and aren’t biting on his aggressive tactics to speed up the process. Cashman is daring him to find an alternative club they will offer him more, but it could be ruining their relationship in the process.

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the Yankees are in danger of losing DJ LeMahieu:

A two-time batting champ and the New York Yankees’ best player for two seasons running, LeMahieu, according to a source close to his family, has become dismayed by the slow-play tactics of the Yankees, along with other clubs. Teams that have engaged with the LeMahieu camp say LeMahieu expects more than Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, LeMahieu’s preferred club after two successful seasons in the Bronx, have not met those terms.

The 32-year-old LeMahieu has, therefore, asked his representatives to re-engage with teams that have previously shown the most interest, the source said, among them the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets, and to reconnect with teams that reached out early in the free agent period, including the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and others.

At this point, it is reasonable to consider alternative plans of action, LeMahieu could easily strike a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Toronto Blue Jays. Things are moving quickly with competing teams, as the Mets just concluded a massive blockbuster deal, acquiring Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. The Yankees need to ensure they have the talent to compete, and while DJ represents arguably their best player, they could supplement his loss with more pitching and a shortstop with a familiar face.

The perfect backup plan:

1.) SP Trevor Bauer

While Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer might not get along, there’s nothing that solves feuds better than winning. Adding a player of Bauer’s quality to the rotation would instantly make the Yankees’ unit one of the best in the MLB.

Trevor won the Cy Young this past year and is extremely vocal on social media, which could be a negative thing in New York. However, he posted a 1.73 ERA with 12.33 strikeouts per nine over 73.0 innings this past year. Of course, the sample size is smaller than usual and should be considered as such.

The Cincinnati star is extremely a talented starter but has been inconsistent in the past and is looking to cash in after his best season yet. It doesn’t seem as if his market is astronomically high, so the Yankees might be able to land him and an additional infielder to supplement the loss of DJ.

2.) SS Didi Gregorius

Earlier this off-season, general manager Brian Cashman stated that Gleyber Torres was out of shape when the MLB started back up over the summer. He also indicated that his better position is second base, which could indicate a desire for the Yankees to replace him at shortstop.

In this scenario, they look to a familiar face, Didi Gregorius. Didi had a fantastic bounce-back season with the Philadelphia Phillies after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019. He recorded a .284 average with 10 homers and 40 RBIs, including a career-low 11.8% strikeout rate.

Gregorius is a fan favorite and would plug an inconsistent position with ease. Torres would be able to move back to his more comfortable spot at second base, and the Yankees would have another lefty batter to work with in the lineup.

Adding Bauer and Gregorius might even be more beneficial than keeping LeMahieu in the first place.

REPORT: MLB to allow fans to start 2021 season

According to an LA Times report, MLB plans to allow fans in stadiums to start the 2021 season if permitted by local and state authorities. The league sent a memo to teams on Monday regarding minimum health and safety standards, and it included information about fan attendance at games.

Seating must be in a socially distant fashion to start the season, with tickets sold in pods. Masks are mandated for stadium entry and must remain on unless actively eating or drinking. Fans will enter the stadium in a socially distant fashion, with social distancing in all parts of stadium concourses.

Any stadium activities or seating without social distancing must be approved by the league first.

MLB, however, won’t mandate a negative COVID-19 test nor proof of vaccination to enter. However, local and state authorities can overrule that and put a testing program into place at stadiums or choose to mandate the vaccine for entry.

As of right now, stadium gatherings are technically prohibited in New York State. However, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed fans to attend the Buffalo Bills playoff game this past weekend and is expected to allow fans once again at the team’s game this weekend. In a recent address, Cuomo hinted that he’d like to reopen stadiums and entertainment venues in a limited capacity.

Cuomo has nearly three months to approve fans at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field for the 2021 season, but Spring Training is right around the corner. Both the Mets and the Yankees hold Spring Training in Florida, a state encouraging fan attendance at games. Although Spring Training tickets aren’t on sale yet, it’s expected fans will be allowed to attend the exhibition games.

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Trevor Bauer will never be a Yankee (video)

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees need pitching both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. Trevor Bauer has often been mentioned as the Yankees solution, but his suggested $200 million contract makes that’s not likely.  Yesterday Trevor Bauer produced a YouTube Video basically dictating the demands he will have for his future team. He said he wants to be a pitcher for the team and wants to be a partner with the front office, where he will have a  say when he pitches and how often. But it doesn’t stop there. He wants a say in his training and how to “build his brand.”

Just like the Yankees demand a clean appearance, they also have a tradition of the team first. That means that everything is about the team and not about the individual player. They carry that to the point of not having the player’s name on team uniforms. Bauer’s new demands that require the team to be in partnership with him to promote him is the complete opposite of the New York Yankees’ psychology of how the team operates and precludes him from ever playing in the Bronx under his terms.

Bauer has always been a controversial baseball player who is not afraid to speak out on any issue. Although this is not an official policy that Yankee players can’t speak about controversial subjects, it is an unwritten rule that they stick mostly to baseball talk when speaking for the club.

To add to that, there is also his relationship with the New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Bauer and Cole have had poor relations from their college days in California.

I will attempt to dig deeper into the feud and try to determine if it’s real and if it could derail any attempt by the New York Yankees of trying to sign him, now that he is a free agent. For the most part, the feud is a feud on Trevor Bauer’s part, not the other way around. Cole went to high school at Orange Lutheran. After his senior year, the New York Yankees selected Cole in the first round, with the 28th overall selection of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. Bauer attended Hart in Santa Clarita, California. Bauer was smart and graduated early, then attended UCLA. Cole refused the Yankee offer, instead attended UCLA. This is where the two high school baseball stars first met.

The first thing to understand is that both of these young men weren’t typical college jocks, they were both brilliant and very academic, and both studied their pitching crafts to levels seldom seen. That is where the similarities ended. The two personalities are polar opposites.  Cole is quiet and all business with an extreme work ethic. Bauer’s mouth sometimes flapped when it shouldn’t, and his work ethic early on was questionable, noted by his coaches.  Cole also noted it and called out Bauer for it. This is when the bad feelings between the two first came about.

Later Cole indicated that he felt that Bauer didn’t have a future in baseball. What caused him to say that is anyone’s guess. But Bauer admits many said the same thing, but it intensified the hurt feelings when his competition Cole said it. At the end of their college careers, they both were at the top of their game and the most wanted in the 2008 draft. Cole was selected number one and Bauer number three, but the supposed feud went on for years. It should be noted that Cole has never spoken of the feud, and avoids talking about it, and to this day, doesn’t talk to or even look at Bauer.

Bauer has a volatile personality that seems to make him say one thing one day and something different on the same subject on another day as it suits him. When he finally pitched against Cole for the first time in his career, when Cole was with the Astros, Bauer had wonderful things to say about Cole and their relationship.

At the same time, former UCLA assistant coach Rich Vanderhook spoke of the feud and said of the likelihood that hey would make up and be friends:

“I would have to say the odds of the earth burning up are better than that, told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s not going to happen. It’s just not. They are opposites, just such complete opposites.”

So with the recent development exposed in his YouTube video below, his controversial nature, and his feud with Gerrit Cole, its three strikes and you’re out as far a Bauer ever being a New York Yankee. Keep an open mind when watching the video. If you’re a Bauer fan, most everything he has to say will make perfect sense. If you’re a detractor, you will feel that he not only wants to pitch but wants to manage the team part-time and also wants to be baseball commissioner. You be the judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the New York Rangers through the lens of fantasy hockey

Whether it is the New York Rangers, Yankees, Jets, Mets, or Giants, it is sometimes interesting to take an independent look at the status of your team. One of the ways this can be done is through fantasy leagues, especially more high stake leagues eliminate the home team bias in examining how well that team will perform.

In the case of the Blueshirts, we will look at data from the highly competitive NFC leagues and Fantasy Alarm/ Friends with Fantasy Benefits hockey analyst Andrew Dewhirst to see how this year’s Rangers are looking through an independent lens.

For example, how does the fantasy industry see the Ranger’s first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere? Currently, his Average Draft position stands at 131. That doesn’t sound great for the first overall pick but there is a reason for this according to Dewhurst. “I don’t have big expectations for Alexis in year one. Much like we saw with Kappo Kakko last year, he likely isn’t going to see time in the top six, and if he does it could be due to injury. Keep in mind, this isn’t because he isn’t a really good hockey payer, this is more because of the Rangers’ depth in their top six.”

However, if the league is what is known as a keeper or dynasty league, where players are drafted for multiple years, then Lafreniere’s value goes way up. “Lafreniere has been a top-tier player throughout his junior career, in the World Junior Championships, and he even made Team Canada at 17 which is rare,” Dewhirst explains. “Long term he will be a point per game player or better.”

Ranger fans will also not be surprised that Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin are at the top of average draft positions in the highly competitive leagues. Zibanejad is being drafted on average at seventh overall while Panarin is being drafted on average at 11.

“My rankings have Panarin as a top-five fantasy player.” Dewhirst states. “He was a point per game player in Columbus(a team notorious for suppressing scoring), and in his first year with the Rangers in what would have been a 100 point season, if not for the shortened season. There is little reason to expect that the same if not more isn’t’ possible for the Breadman, as he grows more familiar with his linemates, and if anything the Rangers have only gotten deeper, which will keep teams from focusing just on his line.”

As for Zibanejad, Dewhirst feels that “we will not see anything close to 41 goals again from him this year. His near 20% shooting percentage likely sustainable, and he will likely fall back to his career norm of 12 percent, which will bring him back closer to a 30 goal pace.”

As Igor Shesterkin begins his first full year in a Rangers jersey, fantasy owners have taken notice and the young goaltender has an average ADP of 55.

“We are going to find out what Shesterkin is this year.” Dewhirst states. “The last time Shesterkin had a save percentage below 0.930 was in the 2014-15 KHL season when he was 20. He is primed to become a star this year, and if your league counts saves, he is all that much more valuable, as he will likely see plenty of them if last year was any indication.

As the leagues usually draft anywhere from 200 to 300 players per league, here is the average draft position for some other Rangers:

Jacob Trouba – 94

Chris Kreider – 95

Tony DeAngelo – 113

Adam Fox – 160

Ryan Strome – 166

Alexandar Georgiev – 179

Pavel Buchnevich – 204

Kappo Kakko – 235

Other Rangers have been selected but not in enough leagues to calculate a fair ADP.

You can follow Andrew Dewhirst at Twitter  – @andrewkdewhirst

 

 

Hayward shows what Knicks are missing in 3rd straight loss

Before the game, Tom Thibodeau confirmed that Gordon Hayward was indeed a New York Knicks‘ free-agent target.

“We looked at all the free agents. And so, we’ll just leave it at that, but we know how talented he is,” Thibodeau said of Hayward. “We had him rated pretty high on our board. There were a number of [top] guys who we thought would fit us. It didn’t work out this time. And we’ll see how it works out in the future.”

What didn’t work out for the Knicks has been working out pretty well for the Charlotte Hornets.

Hayward wasted no time reminding the Knicks what they missed out in the free agency.

The rejuvenated wingman fired 34 points in leading the Hornets’ manhandling of the fast-fading Knicks, 109-88, Monday night.

The 6-4 Hornets have won their last four games — their first four-game winning streak in more than two years — with Hayward playing worthy of the four-year $120-million gamble.

Hayward has rediscovered his All-Star form during the streak with a 29.2-point average on 55 percent shooting.

In contrast, the Knicks are freefalling and struggling to score. They could have used Hayward’s shotmaking as the Knicks failed to reach 90 points for the third straight game.

Hayward dropped 28 points in the first half — the best scoring half in his career — as the Hornets got off to a hot start.

The Knicks came back from 17 points down and held the lead momentarily, 38-37, on an RJ Barrett floater. But the Hornets quickly took it back and led the rest of the way.

Kevin Knox knocked down five threes in the first half to keep the Knicks afloat. His late triple trimmed the gap, 57-51, at the half. It proved to be the Knicks’ last gallant stand. Knox led the Knicks with a season-high 19 points off the bench.

Hayward slowed down in the second half with only six points as the rest of the team picked up the slack.

The Hornets entered the game as the league’s best passing team, which continued against the Knicks. They had 28 assists, with 14 came from their point guards Devonte Graham and rookie LaMelo Ball.

Ball, who recently became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, flirted with another. He finished with eight points, 14 boards, and seven assists.

The Hornets’ defense, too, was sharp with their energy overwhelming the gassed Knicks, who were playing on back-to-back nights.

Julius Randle was held down to a season-low 11 points and five rebounds after averaging 23.2 points and 11.8 rebounds. He was a dismal 2-of-9 from the field.

”Julius is getting double-teamed and triple-teamed right now with his post up, trying to get the ball out of his hands, and we can operate off of that,” Thibodeau said. ”We have to have good spacing, and right now we are hesitating a little bit, and I don’t want them to do that.”

The Knicks kept missing their outside shots, with RJ Barrett misfiring all of his five three-point attempts, including an airball. Barrett has now missed 19 of his last 21 three-point attempts.

Immanuel Quickley is also in the midst of a shooting slump, going 2-for-24 from the field in his last four games. The rookie guard was 1-of-10 against the Hornets.

But Thibodeau praised Quickley’s overall play as part of the second unit that sparked their first-half comeback.

Quickley wound up with three points, four rebounds, and three assists.

The Knicks’ second unit provided the silver lining in another blowout loss.

“I thought our bench particulary in the first half, played really well. Even though Quick didn’t shoot the ball well, he played well. I thought Nerlens gave us good minutes, and I thought Kevin was terrific,” Thibodeau said. “That was positive. And now we have to get other people to play better.”

Nerlens Noel was productive in 15 minutes producing four points, five rebounds, a steal, and two blocks. Starter Mitchell Robinson finished with a solid double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks) but was a team-worst +/- -27.

Austin Rivers, who received his first start with Reggie Bullock unavailable due to a sore right hip, scored 13 points in a team-high 38 minutes.

The Knicks will go home to host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday in the battle of New York that will be on national TV. They will face Kevin Durant, another free agent that got away, for the first time since he spurned them in the 2019 free agency.

The Nets, though, are struggling with drama unfolding as Kyrie Irving continues to miss games due to personal reasons.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo