Thoughts on the New York Knicks season, if it’s over

The New York Knicks and rest of the NBA season is in question.  The season could resume in a month or two and it could jump right into the playoffs.  But, everything in the sports world is a giant question mark currently.

With that being said, if the NBA returns and goes right into the playoffs, the Knicks season would be over.  We can look back on the season and determine what were the positives, if any.

First off, Knicks fans are spoiled.  More so than any other fan base.  It’s New York so the expectations are to contend for a championship.  It doesn’t matter whether all teams were good or bad the season before.  They’re expected to be contenders each year.

This season for the Knicks started with big, optimistic expectations that quickly turned for the worst.  That is something that all fans know very well.  The season began with thoughts of the Knicks sneaking into the back-end of the playoffs.  But, after a 4-17 start and head coach David Fizdale fired, that quickly vanished.

While the players always said the right things about striving to get better and competing for a playoff spot, the realism was they were far from it.  All and all, it was a typical Knicks season.  Big expectations with awful results.

The Knicks had a bunch of good things that came out of this season but the negatives out way the positives.  Positives were the play of rookie RJ Barrett and his ability to show the all-star capabilities for the future.  Mitchell Robinson’s progression a player and work on committing fewer fouls.  And Julius Randle didn’t fit well with the Knicks in his first season despite good stats.

And towards the end of the season, the aggressiveness and positive progression of Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox.  Knox had a smaller sample size at the end after a disastrous start to the season but thankfully fans saw something.  While more in-depth grades and thoughts will come, the consensus of the New York Knicks season was another stinker.

BREAKING: New York Giants cut Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin

New York Giants, Alec Ogletree

The New York Giants have made two more roster cuts on Wednesday, releasing both Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin.

Ogletree was traded from the Los Angeles Rams to the Giants in 2018, and while his stats look solid, he has been a liability on defense for Big Blue. His astronomically high 15.8% missed tackle rate last season proved to be his downfall, and Kareem Martin’s inability to stay healthy and contribute was his inevitable collapse.

How do these cuts affect the New York Giants’ cap space?

Cutting Ogletree will save the Giants $8.25 million in cap space while Martin will add about $5 million in cap. Overall, GM Dave Gettleman will now have $13 million more to play with in free agency, as the Giants desperately need a No. 1 corner and pass rush help.

I anticipate the Giants going out and signing a linebacker, cornerback, and potentially a right tackle. Of course, these variables are dependent on their draft strategy and who they want to allocate picks toward.

The Giants will surely continue to make cuts in the coming days, as Rhett Ellison and Antoine Bethea did not produce to expectations in 2019. Bethea could be retained as a backup safety, and his veteran presence is a positive factor, but he simply didn’t grade well in coverage, recording just one interception (which occurred within five yards of the LOS).

If the Giants do, in fact, cut Ellison, they would be saving approximately $5 million in cap, and Bethea would add $2.75 million.

New York Giants: 3 defensive cut casualties after the 2019 season

New York Giants, Antoine Bethea

At 2-10 on the season, the New York Giants should have one priority moving forward — develop their youth. Rookies DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Julian Love, Dexter Lawrence, Darius Slayton, Kadem Smith, and Oshane Ximines should all be featured in a high-capacity role for the remainder of the regular season.

Love, who was learning the system for the first 11 weeks, played a significant portion of the team’s Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He has looked stellar so far, earning the highest grade on the defense, per PFF.

Julian Love had another strong game for the Giants, he made a couple of excellent tackles and forced a fumble coming out of nowhere to surprise Davante Adams. He is the Giants highest-graded player, 83.7 overall, back to back 80+ grades in his first two games with a heavy workload.

With the Notre Dame product making his presence felt, the services of Antoine Bethea aren’t needed an expended capacity. There are numerous veteran defenders that will make way this offseason for the upbringing of the Giants’ youthful players, let’s take a look at who’s on the chopping block.

Three defenders the New York Giants could part ways with:

1.) Alec Ogletree

When GM Dave Gettleman traded for Ogletree two years ago, he imagined a strong run-stopping linebacker. That expectation has not come to fruition, as Ogletree has been an absolute liability in coverage for two seasons and has missed tackles at a consistent rate.

The Giants haven’t been able to get the value they gave up in the trade for Ogletree, and his $11.75 million cap hit this season is astronomical. However, his dead-cap hit of $3.5 million makes him expendable, since keeping him would lock the Giants into $11.75 million in cap allocations. Cutting him and investing the saved money into a better player should be an easy decision for Gettleman, considering his fourth-round pick in Ryan Connelly was able to steal Ogletree’s spot in just one pre-season.

2.) Antoine Bethea

Bethea has been one of the worst free safeties in the league while playing back in coverage. Against the run, he has been stellar, but while featuring as the last man in coverage, Bethea has given up big-play after big-play. Julian Love has supplemented him with ease and proved to be a better option in the defensive backfield.

Despite Bethea’s lack of quality at free safety, his experience and knowledge of the game have been essential to the development of Love, who has looked great through two weeks of active play. The Giants see him as a potential long-term option at free safety, and they will move on from Bethea in lieu of the decision.

3.) Kareem Martin

Most would forget Martin was still on the team, let alone the league. The former Arizona Cardinal was brought in to help establish DC James Bettcher’s scheme and help new/older players adapt.

Martin missed all of 2019 with a sprained knee. His value is next to none and still has one year remaining on his deal. Last season, he played in all 16 games, recording 48 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks. If the Giants retain him, he will count about $6 million against the camp and $1.3 in dead cap if he’s cut.

This should be an easy decision for Gettleman.

Giants’ Alec Ogletree’s Biggest Weakness On Full Display This Preseason

Making the transition from the 4-3 to 3-4 defensive scheme might end up to be a great move for the New York Giants, but finding the right players for the system will require time. General manager Dave Gettleman traded for former Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree earlier this offseason, allocating roughly $10 million per-year to the six-year veteran.

Ogletree has had tremendous success in the past, primarily as a run-stopping linebacker who manages the defense from the MIC position. He’s a physical and powerful linebacker with the ability to hunt down runners and stop them in their tracks. He’s a perfect fit for the linebacker heavy 3-4 scheme, but he has one glaring weakness. He is terrible in coverage.

In 2017, the Giants were one of the worst teams in the NFL when covering opposing tight ends, and this might be an issue in ’18 as well. Ogletree has already been toyed with by Browns’ David Njoku and Detroit running back Theo Riddick.

The play above is incredibly concerning, as it shows how slow and unable Ogletree is in coverage. The worst part is that he begins the play lined up infront of him, knowing his assignment, where alternatively he would be keeping an eye on the opposing tight end to break into a route.

How can the New York Giants reinforce Alec Ogletree in coverage?

The issue with the 3-4 defense is that it requires consistent blitzes and leaves the secondary to fend for itself. This means that Ogletree will not receive any reinforcements from fellow linebackers, and the safeties will be playing the deep ball and helping out in coverage. Ideally, you want to have at least one LB that can cover, but the Giants have fortified the middle of the field with two run stopping, physical players.

Luckily, it’s only the preseason, and he still has two more weeks to refine his abilities and adapt to James Bettcher’s heavy blitz defense. A lot of developement might be in the cards for Ogletree; if he can’t manage to be a serviceable LB in coverage, the Giants will have to find a way to manage tight ends and running backs through different means.