All-Star break hangover or harbinger? Knicks suffer season’s worst loss

new york knicks, julius randle

Fresh from his first NBA All-Star appearance, Julius Randle had a rude awakening.

Randle didn’t handle well his first game back as a bona fide All-Star and No.1 option. He rammed into a wall in Milwaukee as the Bucks shut him down, resulting in the New York Knicks’ worst loss of the season, 134-101, Thursday night at the Fiserv Forum.

It was a frustrating start for the Knicks, who entered the second half of the season with a winning record (19-18) for the first time in seven years. The loss should serve as an early wake-up call for the Knicks, who have the third-toughest schedule after the All-Star break.

The Bucks executed their game plan to perfection, limiting Randle to a season-low seven points on a brutal 3-for-12 shooting. The constant double and triple-team coverage threw off Randle, and the Knicks went down with their main man.

“I think it’s reading the game. The game’s gonna tell you what shots to take. You have to understand when you’re the first option, and somebody commits sending in a secondary defender, as a primary scorer, you have the responsibility to make the right play,” Tom Thibodeau lamented.

The stagnant offense typified by Randle’s struggles sapped the Knicks’ energy on defense.

On the flip side, the Bucks bullied them.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo picking up from where he left off in Atlanta, the Bucks followed his lead. Milwaukee shot 58 percent and hit 18-of-38 from deep in a dominant performance.

Antetokounmpo won the All-Star Game MVP with a perfect 16-for-16 shooting last Sunday. He followed that up with an 8-for-13 performance against the Knicks on his way to notching his fifth triple-double of the season.

Antetokounmpo, also the reigning back-to-back regular-season MVP, had 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in under 30 minutes to lead the Bucks’ revenge win.

The Knicks, who blasted the Bucks, 130-110, in New York early in the season, was nowhere to be found in Milwaukee on Thursday night. They looked like the Knicks of last year who were running like headless chickens.

A 14-0 run in the first quarter was all the Bucks needed to take the lead, which they never relinquished. Though the Knicks’ second unit closed the gap to five at the end of the first quarter, the Bucks starters came back to restore order.

Milwaukee drew double figures from all its starters while RJ Barrett was the lone Stallion for the Knicks’ starting unit.

Barrett led the Knicks with 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting, with Alec Burks adding 17 and eight assists off the bench.

The loss added to the Knicks’ woes against teams above .500 as they dropped to 5-11 in those games this season. They will try to lick the wounds of this stinging loss when they continue a tough four-game road trip in Oklahoma City this Saturday.

The Knicks are also hoping to avenge their 101-89 loss at the Thunder’s hands in The Garden back in January.

Randle is eager to bounce back as he insisted Thursday’s night’s loss was just an off night that usually comes after the All-Stat break.

“I’m not too worried, man. As far as I remember, the past couple of years, the first game after the break, I’m always sh*tty,” Randle said.

Randle was right.

Last year, he also had a similar seven-point game on 2-for-9 shooting against the Indiana Pacers after the All-Star break. He responded with 10 straight double-digit performances while leading the Knicks to a 4-6 record during that stretch before COVID-19 shut the league down.

The Knicks could only hope Randle can find his rhythm back as it’s clear that they could only go as far as he takes them.

Not unless a significant help comes before the trade deadline to ease his burden.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Trade Rumor: Knicks offer for Chris Paul include Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks, chris paul

The New York Knicks are reportedly preparing a trade package centered on two of their young players plus assets in their bid to land Oklahoma City Thunder’s All-Star point guard Chris Paul.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Heavy.com reported that the Knicks have initially lined up Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, the 2021 first-round pick from Dallas Mavericks, the 2021 second-round pick from Charlotte Hornets plus Elfrid Payton and Bobby Portis as salary fillers.

While this is an underwhelming package compared to what Oklahoma City has received in the Paul George trade, the expiring deals of both Payton and Portis will give the Thunder the cap relief they are seeking.  On top of that, they will also have two former lottery picks to add to their young core and extra Draft capital.

The Knicks’ front office, led by Paul’s former agent Leon Rose, view the 10-time All-Star as a culture-builder, according to SNY’s Ian Begley.

Even at 35, Paul managed to show he’s still one of the top point guards in the league after leading the young Thunder core to 44 wins and went one play away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

Paul’s remaining $85-million salary and injury history comes with a risk. But it is a gamble the Knicks are reportedly willing to take to fast-track their rebuild.

If Paul moves to New York, he is expected to mentor Dennis Smith, Jr. the same way he did to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma.

The Knicks, however, will face stiff competition for Paul’s services from several playoff contenders. The list include the Milwaukee Bucks, who are facing mounting pressure to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo following another dismal playoff exit.  The ownership promised Antetokounmpo that they are willing to go over the luxury tax to surround him with a championship-caliber cast.  The reigning MVP has Paul in his wishlist.

And it seems the feeling is mutual.

It is an open secret around the league that Paul’s stay in Oklahoma City will be short-lived when he was traded from the Houston Rockets. And as early as last year, the veteran guard has been linked to the Bucks.

“I had heard he wanted to go to Milwaukee,” The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo said on Adrian Wojnarowski’s The Woj Pod. “Of course you’d want to go play with Giannis.”

In a video posted following their Bubble exit, Paul said Thunder GM Sam Presti was straightforward since Day One and that he doesn’t know what the future holds. It’s an ominous sign that he may have played his last game as a Thunder.

Presti has a history of working out favorable trade destinations for their stars in Oklahoma with George going to the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. It remains to be seen if Paul would request the same, but it is the most logical thing to do at this stage of his career.

Wide-open NBA Draft favors Knicks, says college basketball analyst

New York Knicks, Killian Hayes

Even without a top-three pick, there’s a chance the New York Knicks could still end up with the best player in this year’s NBA Draft.

That’s the belief of former St. John’s head coach turned ESPN college analyst Fran Fraschilla when he appeared on Michael Kay Show over the weekend.

“First of all, there’s no clear-cut no.1, there’s no consensus no.1, there’s no clear-cut NBA superstar in this Draft just yet but I will remind you guys that this is like 2013 when Anthony Bennett went no.1 and there was a kid by the name of (Giannis) Antetokounmpo that was taken No.15 by the Milwaukee Bucks.  Now, there’s nobody like that in this draft but quite honestly, I don’t care if you’re picking 1, 2, 3 all the way down to 15, you can get a guy, the Knicks can find somebody at eight [pick] that could end up being the best player in this Draft,” Fraschilla said.

The Knicks’ current roster has glaring holes everywhere, but with team president Leon Rose viewing last season lottery pick RJ Barrett and rim protector Mitchell Robinson as cornerstones of the franchise, the growing belief is that the most pressing concern is finding a lead point guard.

Whether they can find that player in the Draft, in the free agency or within the current roster, is a matter of internal debate according to a source familiar with the Knicks’ front office thinking.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported earlier today that the Knicks, along with the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons, are among the teams expected to bid for Toronto Raptors breakout star Fred Van Vleet, the top point guard in an underwhelming free-agent class.

The Knicks currently have a point guard rotation of Elfrid Payton, Frank Nkitilina, and Dennis Smith, Jr., all former lottery picks, who have not panned out.  But after acquiring Kenny Payne and Johnnie Bryant to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff, the sense is that they will attempt to develop their current players to get more value on the court and possibly in the trade market.

LaMelo Ball, who is the Knicks’ top point guard in their board as early as May, is not expected to drop outside the top three.  The team has also conducted an interview with Killian Hayes, the top playmaker among international prospects. The Knicks, in typical Rose’s fashion, is doing their due diligence and is said to be considering all options.

Several mock drafts have yielded different results for the Knicks at no.8, bolstering Fraschilla’s observation.

Under normal circumstances, the Knicks and the other 29 teams could have a better grasp of most of their targets in the NCAA tournament and validate that intel during their in-person workouts and interviews. But even if they missed out on that, Fraschilla believes that some teams have already pegged the best players in their boards.

“Hopefully, Rose and the Knicks are one of those teams but there are kids who are going to be available at eight —Tyrese Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, Saddiq Bey.  There are guys that are gonna be hanging around in this draft that could end up at eight being the best player in this Draft,” Fraschilla said.  “The Knicks just have to find that guy.”

It is interesting to note that Haliburton is being represented by CAA while Okongwu and Bey are with Excel Sports.

In recent memory, the Knicks have been unlucky at no.8.  Since 2005, they have taken three players with the eight pick— Channing Frye (2005), Jordan Hill (2009), and Nkitilina (2017)— without much success.

Can Rose turn the Knicks’ lottery pick into a ‘Lucky 8’ this time?

Fraschilla is optimistic: “There’s a new regime. I’m confident that these guys know what they’re doing.”

 

Taking a look at Zach Lowe’s New York Knicks rant

New York Knicks, James Dolan

Whenever people talk about the New York Knicks anymore it’s always negative.  Maybe not to a majority of Knicks fans, but NBA fans.  People can’t seem to find anything positive about them, outside Knicks fans.

Zach Lowe went off about the Knicks on his podcast ‘The Lowe Post‘.  The whole rant was not needed.  To sum it up quickly, Lowe stated, “The Knicks just suck. Every year they suck.  There’s no hope for them to not suck.  We thought there was hope for them to not suck all of last year.”  A little harsh on Knicks fans Zach, wouldn’t you say?

Lowe continued, “Why would you come”, meaning coming to play in New York.  He then mocked Knicks fans are thinking that they would have the cap space in 2021 for Giannis Antetokounmpo.  To be honest, he isn’t coming to New York, so we can end that now.

He then moved towards Kristaps Porzingis.  Lowe mentioned that there would be Knicks fan protesting before Halloween if Porzingis gets off to a hot start at the beginning of the season, like he usually does.

Lowe shifted towards the Knicks owner next saying, “You can’t bad mouth” (him) and fans will be kicked out of the Garden this season.  He isn’t wrong here.  The big man isn’t afraid to do that if he hears anything remotely bad about himself or the team.  Imagine if there’s protesting?  Fans will be getting kicked out left and right.

Towards the end of his rant, Lowe began to be somewhat positive about the Knicks roster.  He said Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson are all “interesting.”  The Knicks just drafted RJ Barrett too, but Lowe believe they’re going to “Suck again and get another high pick.”  Lowe tossed in another dig at the Knicks mentioning Frank “Ntilikina who was better for France for 2 weeks then he ever was for the Knicks so far.”

Towards the end of the rant, Lowe contradicted himself once.  He mentioned the Knicks situation is “not that bad.”  But, there is no hope for the Knicks and they will always be bad, according to Lowe.  Trying to pull Knicks fans back in after devaluing their team?  Not so fast.

Knicks fans on Twitter expressed their disgusted with Lowe after this rant, many which can’t be posted.  However, there are some points were Lowe isn’t wrong.

First off, saying that the Knicks “suck” was accurate.  They did “suck” last season.  There was definitely a lot of hope and that went straight the drain.  The 3 players he mentioned, Smith Jr., Knox and Robinson are “interesting” and should have better seasons.  There’s a lot of hope for them.  His take on Ntilikina was true.  But, that was the opportunity the Ntilikina needed to hopefully translate his game to the NBA.

But, saying there is no hope for the Knicks is just disrespectful.  Yes, all Knicks fans have been there before, saying those exact words.  For once in the team’s history, there is hope.  They have a lot of young “interesting” talent and good foundations for the future.

What is there to be so negative about?  Yes, all Knicks fans want to win.  The Knicks have tried to quick fixes in the past and it backfired.  It was time to start from the ground up and that’s what the Knicks are doing.  Scott Perry turned around the Sacramento Kings into having a good, young up-and-coming roster, why not the Knicks now?

People bashing the Knicks is never going to stop until they’re actually winning again.  Until then, this is how it’s always going to be.  Tough to be a Knicks fan these days, but better days are coming, despite what Lowe thinks.

Stop this New York Knicks rumor already

The New York Knicks struck out on early big name free agent this off-season. The organization put all their eggs in the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving basket this summer and it backfired.

The Knicks appeared to feed the fans all of this ‘fake news’ of their confidence that they land one or two superstars.  As we all know, that was not the case.  Their biggest free agent signing was Julius Randle.  It was a very good signing of a player coming off this best season as a pro.

The Knicks then signed several forwards for 2-year-deals with the second year being a team option, another small win.

With that being said, everyone believes by the Knicks doing all these team options contracts that they are again going to put their eggs in another superstars basket.

The new hot name is Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Allegedly, he will be the Knicks number one target.

This needs to stop already.  The amount of stress this summer has put on Knicks fans was a lot.  The Knicks did the same thing with LeBron James, twice, and now this summer.  Fans will not be able to go through the stress, constant speculation creating the awful feeling of being left in the dust again.  It has happened more then we wanted.

The Knicks need to take the traditional route and build a winning team through the draft.  Landing big name free agents are not in the cards for the Knicks anymore.  Giannis is not happening either.