Knicks dodge a bullet as Kristaps Porzingis turns into most expensive role player

julius randle, knicks

Two years ago, the New York Knicks were the butt of the joke for trading away a rising star Kristaps Porzingis.

The Dallas Mavericks won the trade via landslide in the eyes of the majority. But after watching Porzingis turned into the most expensive role player in the league during the playoffs, it appears the former Knicks’ regime had the right foresight.

For two years, Porzingis has failed miserably to live up to the expectations that came with the $158 million contract extension he signed with the Mavericks after the trade. His health and diminishing on-court production has raised more concerns than playoff success for the Mavericks.

After averaging just 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in another Dallas’ first-round exit this season, Porzingis sounded as disgruntled as he was in New York.

“Good question,” Porzingis told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon on how does he feel about his fit with the franchise moving forward.

“How do I feel? I mean, I’m good. I tried to put in the work, tried to work hard. I do my part, listen to the coaches, what I’m asked to do, and that’s it. I try to keep it simple for myself so I’m not overthinking, and I try to focus on what I can control. That’s being a better basketball player, going into the offseason hungry. I want to get better physically [and] on the basketball court. I’m going to put that work in to get better, and then the rest of the stuff will resolve itself.”

For Porzingis, it’s simple. But for the Mavericks, it’s a complex one.

It’s the same question that the Knicks have correctly answered in the past.

Porzingis may have cost Dallas just a few expendable players and picks that nowhere near the top of the Lottery in that trade, but the big contract they gave Porzingis is now considered around the league as an albatross according to an ESPN report.

Tim Hardaway, Jr., viewed as a throw-in in the Porzingis deal, has played better than Porzingis. But the Mavericks may not afford him after going all-in with Porzingis and with Doncic’s supermax extension looming on the horizon.

While the Knicks missed out on superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which is why they made the swing in the first place, the consolation prize, which turned out to be Julius Randle and significant cap space, roughly $50 million, this summer wasn’t that bad at all.

Randle’s All-Star and Most Improved Player rise this season fueled the Knicks’ rebuild that reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The Knicks were also able to flip Dennis Smith Jr. into half-season of Derrick Rose’s magical renaissance. They have also used that cap space to rent Marcus Morris last season and converted him into Draft steal Immanuel Quickley.

The Knicks could still use the Mavericks picks (21st in this year’s Draft and a top-10 protected first-round pick in 2023) they got from the Porzingis’ deal to acquire a star or another solid core piece via trade.

It’s working out well for the Knicks. Not so much for the Mavericks, who paid a premium for a unicorn that has turned out to be an albatross.

Two years since the trade, the tables have been turned. The Knicks have transformed into a franchise on the rise while Porzingis became the butt of the joke.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Randle’s summer comes to the fore after his 44 lifts Knicks to 5th straight win

julius randle, knicks

Returning to the place where the seed of his transformational season was planted, Julius Randle’s game sprouted like a tall bamboo.

His seventh season is turning out to be his best one yet, but it also had its shares of lows, including a 25-percent shooting nightmare in a loss to his hometown team Dallas at the beginning of the month.

Randle bent but didn’t break. Just like bamboo.

On Friday night, Randle’s most important summer came to the fore as he scored a season-high-tying 44 points to carry the New York Knicks to a 117-109 win over the Mavericks.

“He prepared himself for this. You can’t overlook that,” Tom Thibodeau said of Randle’s performance. “I knew when I saw him the first time in the summer—the type of shape that he was in. I’ve had a number of players throughout my career that prepared themselves extremely well in the offseason so they can handle the workload they’re gonna have.”

After a disappointing first season with the Knicks, Randle went home to Dallas last summer, determined to erase that stigma, and paced himself to become a true alpha.

He trained thrice a day. Like he never did before.

The result was a breakthrough All-Star season leading a surging Knicks team that keeps on surprising.

The Friday night shocker was the fifth straight victory for the Knicks that represented their longest winning streak since an eight-game run in 2014. More importantly, the win pushed them three games above .500 (30-27) and just half-game from climbing up to fourth seed in the East currently held by both Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks (30-26).

Randle was determined from the start, hitting his first four shots, including going 3-for-3 from the 3-point line.

He outplayed Luka Doncic, a generational talent and the new face of his hometown team, and Kristaps Porzingis, the former Knicks’ franchise player reduced to just a role-playing skilled big man.

Through three quarters, Randle already had 35, and the Knicks led by four, 83-79.

“I was locked in and focused,” said Randle, who has scored at least 30 points in his last three games. “I always love playing at home in front of my friends, in front of my family. I never take those moments for granted.”

Randle has now scored at least 20 points in his last six games against his hometown team.

But it wasn’t just an all-Randle show for the Knicks.

RJ Barrett took over at the start of the fourth quarter. After a pair of duds, Barrett returned to form, scoring 13 of his 24 points in that pivotal quarter.

With Randle, Doncic and Porzingis all taking a breather, Barrett took advantage and scored eight straight points as the Knicks built a nine-point lead, 91-82.

Frank Ntilikina, who played spot-up minutes with Alec Burks out due to the health and safety protocols, hit a three-pointer that extended the Knicks lead to a dozen, 94-82.

“We were trying to match up, taking Julius out when they took out Doncic. We felt we needed another scorer out there. That group got on a run, RJ got on a run. We went with it. I thought Frank gave us good minutes. We needed another defender out there, and I thought that was important,” Thibodeau explained.

Derrick Rose also played a significant role leading the Knicks bench with 15 points and five assists.

The Mavericks came charging back and cut the lead into half, 101-95, on a Doncic layup with 4:27 left.

Then Randle finished what he started, scoring his last nine points the rest of the way.

Randle went 16-for-29 from the floor in 41 minutes and added 10 rebounds and seven assists to become the first Knicks player since Bernard King in 1985 to have at least 40 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in a single game.

Randle also became the first Knicks player since Carmelo Anthony in 2013-14 to have multiple 40-point games in a single season.

Porzingis led the Mavericks with 23 points and 12 rebounds but was only 8-for-20 from the field. Nerlens Noel returned from a one-game absence due to a sore ankle and did a good job defensively against Porzingis.

Noel pulled down 10 rebounds and swatted away three blocks, and scored six points for good measure.

The Knicks defense also reduced Doncic to a playmaker instead of his usual go-to-scorer role. He tied his career-high 19 assists but bled for 22 points on 16 shots.

Randle was the brightest star in Dallas this Friday night.

He was a man on a mission, leading the hottest team in the NBA. Before this 44-point explosion, he haunted his former teams—LA Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans—with 34 and 32 points, respectively.

The Knicks will meet the Pelicans again on Sunday at The Garden.

For sure, Zion Williamson and the Pelicans will try to break Randle.

They could bend him but cannot break him. And every time he bends, it’s just a matter of time before he springs back like bamboo.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis makes heart-felt comment prior to Friday’s matchup

new york knicks, kristaps porzingis

The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening, and they will reunite with one of their old stars. Former Knick Kristaps Porzingis will lead the charge for Dallas, who currently sits at 25-21 and hosts Luka Doncic and another former Nick, Tim Hardaway Jr.

With Doncic averaging 28.7 points and Porzingis 20.4, the Knicks will have to be on top of their game to take down Dallas. They have won four of their last six games, with victories coming over the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder in the last two.

Porzingis, though, misses his time in New York, making some heartfelt comments before his new team looks to overcome their stellar defense.

“I do,” Porzingis said. “I miss the city. I miss this place. A lot of great memories. Every time I come back, it’s special. A lot of people here still recognize me and show me love and support. It’s always good to come back.”

Porzingis tore his ACL in 2018, which changed his outlook with the Knicks forever. He’s currently averaging 20.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, and shooting .478% from the field. He made the transition to center, but his elite shooting abilities make him extremely valuable.

“They’re good, they’re playing physical,” Porzingis said of the Knicks. “They’re playing a little bit slower but they take their time and they have [a] good group. They play hard defensively. Very solid team. They’re not a team we can overlook and think that we’re going to come in there and beat them. Especially when they’re at home. So we’re going to take them very seriously and prepare for them.”

The Knicks have outperformed everybody’s expectations this year with suffocating defense. However, their offense falls off at times, and if teams can shut down Julius Randle and limit RJ Barrett, they can basically improve their chances of victory.

Porzingis also reflected on the idea of him staying with the Knicks years ago and what might’ve happened, an interesting narrative nonetheless.

“Who knows how we could’ve been if I didn’t get hurt. Multiple different situations could’ve happened. But it is what it is. Now in Dallas, my second year in Dallas. I do have great memories of New York and I do miss the city, I miss the fans. I had a great time there when I was there.”

Thankfully, the Knicks will have home-court advantage for this contest, and with Dallas ranking first in the southwest division, they’re going to need to be at the top of their game to take them down.

The Knicks are coming off a disappointing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are the worst team in the NBA. Interestingly, Dallas might be first in their division, but they only have a 3 game advantage over New York, who currently sits third in the Atlantic Division.

New York State of Mind: NBA trainer David Zenon is a man on a mission

The New York Knicks are reportedly still looking to fill out their already stacked coaching staff with more player development coaches. The Knicks’ head hunters don’t have to look far.

New York has been dubbed as the concrete jungle. Not everyone has the right temperament to survive, let alone shine amidst the bright lights in the city that never sleeps.

Its allure has captivated a lot of dreamers but has also sunk a thousand ships of failure.

New York-bred NCAA and NBA skills trainer David Zenon could have been one of them. But he has the heart of a real New Yorker. A fighter and a grinder.

This is a story that he must have been told a hundred times but it always hits home every time. It’s a story of how far you’re willing to go to chase after your dream.

“I was on the border of quitting. The story was very, very real. I only had 4 dollars and 75 cents to my name. I was just like, damn, I don’t’ think I’m gonna be able to do this. I can’t make any headway. I’m not catching breaks and it felt like a dead-end,” Zenon told Empire Sports Media in a phone interview.

Zenon had been chasing his dreams since he learned to play the game. At first, he wanted to become a basketball player. Then a basketball TV analyst. He eventually settled with a dream he became so passionate about during his junior year in college.

Growing up in the Bronx, he watched his dad playing competitive games around New York.

“I’ve played my entire life. My dad played ball. I was introduced to basketball very early. Once I got to college, I was a practice player. I wasn’t even a player on scholarship,” said Zenon who started as Communications Major before switching to Sports Management with a minor in Kinesiology.

With his basketball dreams seemingly slipping out of his reach, he turned his attention to the other facets of the game he loves most. His internship program with their women’s basketball team at Liberty University in Virginia paved the way for him to develop a passion for coaching and teaching.

“I had to learn the offenses and defenses of various teams just because that’s what the scouting guys would normally do and you know, it turned into a passion. It’s part of developing guys and that’s part of what you have to do as a coach, but also as a player just to get better,” Zenon said.

“I figured I could get into coaching or training right out of college.”

But it wasn’t easy breaking into the industry that has evolved from training with no one watching to having large clout on social media.

Zenon had to start from the ground up.

He trained random kids in nondescript courts and empty gyms just to make ends meet.

It was far from lucrative. Everyday was a fight for survival.

He wasn’t even living paycheck to paycheck. It was training kid to waiting-who-knows-when-there’s-another kid willing to pay to be coached.

The emotions at the other end of the line can be felt in his voice.

Here’s an NBA trainer who has been to the highest of highs training an NBA champion in Serge Ibaka and a slew of NBA players showing raw emotions recalling his humble beginnings.

It’s the story of the underdog who was almost on the verge of defeat but remained defiant. If this was a boxing match against fate, Zenon was already on the ropes, trapped in the corner and agonizingly waiting to be saved by the bell.

During his darkest hour, that’s when the opportunity came along with serendipity.

Down to his last money, Zenon received a message that would soon change his life forever.

“I was lucky enough to get contacted by a young man who’s trying to make it to his varsity basketball team and he just said ‘I heard you’re a good trainer, you work well with kids. Do you mind training me so I can make it to our varsity team?’,” Zenon recalled.

At the back of his head, Zenon was like: “Yeah I need the money!”

“But I’ve always wanted to teach the game. It doesn’t matter who he is,” he said.

He went to a nearby gas station and emptied the last $4.75 on his debit card to fill up his tank. Luckily, he found an additional quarter in his compartment.

“I asked him (gas attendant) if he could please put in a quarter worth of gas. I needed everything I could get,” Zenon recalled.

He ended up impressing the kid and his parents who watched on.

“And they asked me if is this is what I do full-time, ‘Is this how you make your money?’

And I’m like, yes sir, it is,” Zenon recalling that life-changing moment.

“My main source is this but I would like to work for an NBA franchise.”

Unknown to Zenon, the kid’s family is well-connected in the Madison Square Garden.

Zenon hit two birds in one stone as he became the kid’s full-time personal coach and his family’s connections helped him knock on the NBA door.

“His parents told me: ‘Well, we’ll introduce you to somebody who, hopefully, will open some doors for you’,” Zenon said.

He landed a gig with New York’s G League team. It wasn’t in the coaching staff, but he took it nonetheless.

“I was hired as a shot clock operator for the Westchester Knicks. I was doing just shot clock and statistics and I don’t even care if it was G League, I’d do it,” Zenon said.

Once his foot was halfway the NBA door, he didn’t let go of the opportunity. He networked like a young Mark Zuckerberg, handing out his card, resume, his number every time there was an opportunity.

Soon he was starting to vibe with the players such as former Knicks’ guard Langston Galloway.

“That was big for me,” Zenon said.

One opportunity led to another.

“Things really blew up for me when the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis. I became cool with the brothers just because of a Tweet, ironically, and I had a gym where they can get shots at night at a local Westchester area,” Zenon said. “So we developed that rapport just I always do.”

Porzingis’ agent at that time was also managing Ibaka’s career. They were looking for a trainer for the summer. His connection with the Porzingis led to a tryout with Ibaka.

“‘We heard that your workout is good. We’ll gonna give you a tryout with Serge. I have one legit tryout for you to see if he likes it’,” Ibaka’s agent told Zenon.

In the two days leading to the make-or-break tryout, Zenon maniacally prepared for what was the biggest moment of his career. He watched and broke down films like he’s never done before.

“It was nerve-wracking because if Serge didn’t like it then it’s on to the next guy. He was a perfectionist,” Zenon said.

 

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Serge is going to make his first All Star ⭐️ Team this season, but while in New York, it’s a Photoshoot.

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His hard work and attention to detail paid off. He officially became an NBA personal trainer and hasn’t looked back since that summer of 2017.

His portfolio grew from Ibaka to the Plumlee brothers, Detroit Pistons’ Thon Maker, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jacob Evans, and several NBA players whom he did not name due to the confidential nature of his arrangement with their agents.

His consummate body of work has landed him a gig in an ESPN commercial featuring last year’s top pick Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, the Knicks’ third overall pick.

Zenon also had a hand in Common’s 2020 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP performance.

The Chicago-based rapper, actor and writer was introduced to him by a common friend.

“He hit me up one day and said ‘I have Common in town, he wants to workout’,”Zenon recalled.

”I said The rapper?!”

He replied: “Yes, the rapper.”

Common was so impressed that he wanted another one which led to several more workouts. Common even flew him to Chicago for the All-Star Weekend to personally witness the fruit of their hard work at the gym.

A part of his ultimate bucket list has also been ticked off, sort of. He can proudly say that he has played a part in the development of the Knicks’ second-round steal Mitchell Robinson.

He’s been helping Robinson with his personal workouts in New York since he was drafted thanks to the rapport he’s built with the third-year center’s New Orleans-based trainer Marcel Scott. Zenon, though, still dreams of someday making it to his hometown team’s staff as a player development coach.

So how exactly did he pull it off and charm his way to Ibaka and the rest of his clients’ hearts?

“I want my players to know that I care about them first. When you develop a certain delivery, you need to have power in your voice, you have to have that belief in your voice. Players would like to see that confidence in what knowledge you’re giving them and vice-versa. As much as I would love to teach everything that I know, I’m learning from them too. You have to have that back-and-forth, collaborative process,” Zenon said.

Built like a rock, the 6-foot-3 and 230-lb trainer has exhibited a combination of grace and power on the court.

As student of the game, Zenon’s thirst hasn’t been quenched. He always loves to seek out opportunities to collaborate and pick the brains of the best trainers in the industry.

With Ibaka, he’s been grateful for the opportunity to team up with veteran Spanish coach Hugo Lopez. The 45-year old Spaniard had coaching stints in the Spanish league, Euroleague, Angola, and most notably NBL Canada where he was named Coach of the Year in 2016.

“I always mention that I also learn from other guys. And Serge has been working with Hugo Lopez too, from Spain. A great guy, great teacher. It’s really great to work with somebody who knows so much about the game as well and when you worked with a guy like that and brainstorm with the player and do the right way, you’ll be able to see the fruits of his labor,” Zenon said.

With Zenon and Lopez at the helm of things, Ibaka flourished and was able to expand his game and adapt to the constantly evolving NBA. In just his second year co-training Ibaka, the Spanish international became a vital cog of the Toronto Raptors’ championship run in the 2018-19 season.

It wasn’t just a combination of grace and power. His cerebral work has also been integral in his success as a trainer.

“I would always want to study the offense that they’re part of. I do a lot of diligent work to look at a lot of things like the ability to look at their schedule and see the tendencies of the opposing teams on how they play defense on him,” Zenon explained.

“That’s how I based my training with my guys.”

Aside from Lopez and Scott, Zenon has two more player development coaches who have greatly influenced him.

“I’ve been able to learn from Phil Handy. He’s a great man. He knows so much obviously. He does a great job developing his guys,” Zenon said.

Handy, of course, is the renowned player development coach who’s tight with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The current Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach has now won three rings with three different teams out of six consecutive Finals appearances including four with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and one each with the Raptors and the Lakers. Handy is on the radar of the Brooklyn Nets to join Steve Nash’s coaching staff.

How he met Handy is another proof of Zenon’s hunger and willingness to go the extra mile.

“I just reached out in DM (Direct Message on Twitter) and I was honest to him that I want really to learn,” Zenon said. “This is what I’m doing to get better in my craft but what can I do to get a lot better consistently,” he asked Handy.

When Handy was still with the Cavaliers and was visiting the Philadelphia 76ers, Zenon had to drive from New York to meet him in person for the first time.

“If I had the opportunity to talk to him even for 10 minutes, the two-and-a-half-hour drive was worth it. I was able to pick his brain, the thought process on how they prepare for the game,” Zenon said.

He would always seek Handy’s wisdom on zoom calls thereafter as well as other coaches.

The other guy in his corner is James Clark, the Philadelphia-based trainer of 76ers’ Ben Simmons and San Antonio Spurs’ Dejounte Murray and several more NBA players.

“We’ve worked together, we’ve done clinics and workout together. There’s a mutual respect there. It’s always been something so beneficial for me to be able to have those two guys in my corner. Phil and James are good friends too,” Zenon said.

“It’s been a total blast to have those two guys in my corner.”

While the pandemic had slowed down everything, Zenon refused to get stagnant. He read books and coaching resources. He watched and broke down films and at the height of the quarantine, he had to be creative and imaginative in the digital space to connect with his players.

“It’s tough because you’re not hands-on. So we just gotta do it by distance. It’s crazy because I’m always the kind of guy who moves a lot and shows them what to do,” he said.

On top of his NBA and NCAA gigs, Zenon is still routinely coaching kids. He is also a current assistant coach at The Patrick School in New Jersey, the venerable high school program that produced Samuel Dalembert, Al Harrington, and Irving.

The young man who opened up the doors for Zenon made it to his varsity team.

“He actually became a starter, not that year but the following year. They won a section championship and I’m still very close to him to this day. He’s like a little brother to me,” Zenon said.

Zenon’s $4.75 has gone a long way.

And the best is yet to come as his journey hasn’t even reached halfway.

The New York Knicks problem is this man, not the ‘head huncho’

The New York Knicks have a lot of problems surrounding the franchise.  Some will say it’s the coaching, the front office, personnel or owner.  It all depends on your view of the team.

A lot of fans will think that the Knicks owner is the problem.  Their argument is very valid.  Players won’t come because of him and how the organization is being run, not wrong.

However, when the New York Knicks parted ways from Phil Jackson in 2017, they forgot someone.  The Knicks should’ve ‘mutually parted’ ways with Steve Mills as well.

‘Cleaning house’ means everyone’s was getting the axe.  Not leave a few executives around just because they may be good friends with the owner.

Mills was suppose to be this ‘talent evaluator’ but that has yet to be seen.  Yes, he got lucky this summer by getting a hopeful future all-star in RJ Barrett.  The year before was Kevin Knox but he has been on the decline after a positive start to this season.  Truthfully, those picks may have been Scott Perry but Mills has the final say.

Since he returned to the Knicks in 2013, the Knicks have had 6 consecutive losing seasons and are on their way for their seventh.

Mills was the one that gave Tim Hardaway Jr. that horrendous contract, 4-year, 71 million to return to New York, after they got rid of him once.  And after he was another gunner for the Knicks, he was dealt in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.  Great singing.

He has had plenty of opportunities to prove himself that he is capable of turning a franchise around even before Jackson.  Mills has failed on that front.  The Knicks haven’t gotten better, in any aspect, they continue to get worse.  There are some pieces for their future like RJ Barrett, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson.  Besides that, everyone is expendable.

Mills making basketball decisions hasn’t panned out since he returned.  He may be good on the business side but when it comes to making on-court decisions, he shouldn’t make the calls.  The Knicks owner fails to see that he is incapable of turning a team around.

The Knicks needs an entirely new front office if they want to turn this around in the next decade.  They really need to clean house and get rid of all the executives, and coach.  Anyone with ties to the team in the last 6, soon to be 7, seasons of losing needs to go, minus Perry.

Thanks to @knickantor for the inspiration. 

New York Knicks sweep Mavs season series; should play them more often

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The former New York Knicks superstar Kristaps Porzingis made his anticipated return to the Garden last night.  The fans welcomed Porzingis back with a lot of trash talk, chants and boos all game.

Porzingis said that he “understands” why Knicks fans would be upset with him but that’s besides the fact anymore.  Moving on.  The Knicks won the final game of the 2 game series against the Dallas Mavericks and you would have thought it was a playoff game, 106-103.

The New York Knicks came out with a lot of fire but the crowd even more on one.  The defense was fiery and the Knicks were hitting the shots.  The tone was set by Frank Ntilikina.  Porzingis drove down Broadway and tried to dunk but Ntilikina was not letting that happen.  It was a blocking foul on Ntilikina but it was a clean block.

After the Mavs timeout, the Knicks were up 8-2 and you’d think they were on the verge of winning the NBA title.

The Knicks defense were energetic and all over-the-place throughout the entire game.  There was a few times were boxing out was a major issue but the Knicks out-rebounded the Mavs 62-48.  The Knicks also switched into a zone defense that, at times, was not that bad.  The Mavs found the holes but it could have been a lot worse.

The offense was cooking especially from beyond the arc.  The Knicks were 13-30, 44.7%.  They weren’t shying away and why not.  It there were hitting them then have at it.  Whenever the Knicks needed a big three it was always Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis or Dennis Smith Jr.

Yes, Smith Jr.  He had his best performance of the season in his second back back.  Smith was able to create for the Knicks and even make shots.  He defense wasn’t too shabby either.

The Mavs stayed in game thanks for Porzingis and Luka Doncic, who had a triple-double, but it wasn’t enough them.  The Knicks hit big shots and didn’t fold.  Fans could see the collapse coming but not this time.

It was partially thanks for the defense provided by Ntilikina in crunch time in the fourth.  His defense at the end of the game is exactly why he needs to play because when they need there was Ntilikina.  Also, the big shot hit by Morris sealed the game for the Knicks and the Garden erupted.

This was the best Knicks team performance of the season.  Not going to say that this could be the start of a turn around but the Knicks played like the team we all thought they could be this season.  Can it continue as they have two winnable games coming up against the Hornets and Cavaliers?  We shall see but this win was very enjoyable.

New York Knicks brass expresses serious concern in conference, coaching staff running out of time

New York Knicks, Scott Perry, Steve Mills

The New York Knicks fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on the back of a porous defensive performance 108-87. The Knicks trailed for the entire game, going down 31-19 after just one-quarter of play.

After the contest concluded, the Knicks brass held a press conference to express their concern over the state of the team and how poor they have played thus far. Just ten games into the season, there’s still plenty of time to turn things around, but it will take a significant effort to get them on track, especially with head coach David Fizdale fiddling with the starting lineup like a child and a bowl of puddy.

During Fizdale’s post-game press conference, Steve Mills and Scott Perry walked in to answer the call:

“We still believe in our coaching staff,” Mills said. “We’re not happy where we are right now.”

There have been plenty of arguments to justify the firing of Fizdale, who can’t seem to piece together a consistent starting unit. Whether it be the combination of players or their individual lack of quality, it ultimately lands on the head coach and his efforts.

Scott Perry stated:

“I think it’s the lack of consistency. We gotta be consistent in all areas.”

After signing numerous veteran free agents to supplement the loss of Kristaps Porzingis and provide rookie RJ Barrett with plenty of support, the expectations for the Knicks were far more optimistic than their recent performances. At some point, the Knicks will need to come together and string together several good performances.

Where are the New York Knicks struggling?

As of late, the team’s defense seems to be their weak point, as Fizdale continues to try and enforce his ideology on established players. Reports of the Knicks head coach trying to change Julius Randle’s style of play have risen concern, considering how Randle has been used in the past (a primarily offensive player).

Building a scheme around his best players should be the priority, but it seems adapting to his style is more pressing.

New York Knicks: Julius Randle is an absolute stud, goodbye Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

The New York Knicks did a fantastic job navigating the second-tier free-agent market after losing out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this past offseason. Bringing in former New Orleans Pelican, Julius Randle has given the team a spark of new life and optimism for success in the future.

Randle not only brings past success but the desire and passion for dragging the Knicks out of the dark ages, leftover from the Kristaps Porzingis era, and his unfortunate need to take his talents elsewhere. Randle, though, seems to be the real deal after only one preseason game with the Knicks — yes, I know, better to be patient and wait for the regular season to make rash comments, but hell, we need a little excitement in our lives as Knicks fans.

This week, Brooklyn Nets star Durant stated that the Knicks weren’t a cool destination:

“I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players who, in their lifetime, don’t remember the Knicks being good,” Durant said. “… I’ve seen the Knicks in the Finals, but kids coming up after me didn’t see that. That whole brand of the Knicks to them is not as cool as let’s say the Golden State Warriors or even the Lakers or the Nets now. The cool thing right now is not the Knicks.”

Randle responded to his comment, saying:

“Shit. I feel cool in blue and orange. I don’t know about everybody else, but I feel pretty cool wearing my Knicks gear every day. It’s a dream come true for me.”

Interesting — playing for the New York Knicks is “cool” after all! What’s even cooler is the idea of taking the Knicks to the playoffs and injecting pride into an organization that has lost its way. As fans, nobody should be distraught over the abrupt exit of Kristaps Porzingis. He didn’t want to play in New York under the bright lights, so he was shown the door.

Bringing in Randle might not supplement the loss of Porzingis entirely, but it undoubtedly helps with the culture and atmosphere around the team. Having a quality player that “want” to be there can be the difference between winning and losing.

So here’s a collecting, “goodbye” to Kristaps Porzingis.

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.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett reveals who he plans to dunk on as a rookie

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks are not short on athleticism, especially after adding 3rd overall pick RJ Barrett in the 2019 NBA draft. The rookie is prepared to leave his mark on the 2019-20 season, but when he was asked who he’d like to dunk on, his answer was a bit surprising.

Former Knick and currently enemy to the state, Kristaps Porzingis, was his player of choice.

Knicks fans should be excited and fired up about his response, as watching Barrett go over-top of Porzingis in live-action would be spectacular, or at the very least, a big win for New York.

Porzingis was traded to the Dallas Mavericks last season after demanding his release. The Knicks received point guard Dennis Smith Jr. in the deal, a young player with a plate-full of potential he’s working towards unleashing.

The Knicks are still an incredibly young team fighting for their respect in the NBA. Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier and more make up the youth foundation for one of the youngest teams in basketball.

Barrett recently said it “felt right” to be drafted by the Knicks, considering his mother grew up in Brooklyn. The Knicks are gaining one of the college basketball’s top players — he would’ve been the No. 1 overall pick given Zion Williamson didn’t take over college’s basketball stage by storm.

RJ averaged a healthy 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting 45.4 percent from the field. He also shot 30.8 percent from three-point land and 66.5 percent from the free-throw line. He’s refined in attacking the rim and utilizing his length to get past defenders in the paints, but he’s a lackluster shooter that will look to develop his jump shot this season.

Expecting him to be a productive scorer right off the bat might be too optimistic, but he’s certainly capable of getting to the rim and effecting games positively. His progression will take some time, but limit your expectation throughout his rookie campaign.