Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating this Team through 3 games

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

The date is March 10th, 2020. Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead jumper against the Lakers to put the Nets up 2. Anthony Davis misses a wide-open three to win the game, and the Brooklyn Nets hold on to upset the Lakers 104-102, which ends up being their last game together before the season is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Nets were playing their best basketball of the season at that point under interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

Let’s fast forward a few months (with no basketball) to present day. The Brooklyn Nets have now played three games since the NBA season resumed and are a shell of what the team looked like in March, due to a large portion of the roster either choosing to opt-out or being forced to opt-out due to health/injury reasons. The team still has Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris,  players who have all been essential pieces for Brooklyn all year. New faces, including Lance Thomas, Justin Anderson, Tyler Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Donta Hall, have been thrust into the rotation as they work on developing chemistry and finding their role on this team.

Let’s break down the Nets performances game by game, starting with their first match-up with Orlando.

Orlando: 128  vs. Brooklyn: 118 – Full box score

Remember how Nets fans were excited to play this Orlando Magic team twice in the bubble? Well, it turns out that excitement was extremely misguided because the Magic destroyed the Nets in every aspect of this basketball game. This was a rough game for the two leaders on this team, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen. LeVert finished with 17 off of 7-17 from the field and 0-4 from three but, most importantly, was a -26 while on the floor. Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and grabbed 5 boards. The Nets started the game off well, scoring 39 in the first quarter and grabbing a 3 point lead, but fell apart in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter, being outscored by Orlando by 32 points. 

The only bright spot for the Nets was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who got out of the #NETSTwitter doghouse after his awful play in the scrimmages. TLC finished with 24 points off 8-12 from the field and 5-8 from three. It was great to see TLC get in a rhythm and get some shots to fall. Outside of LeVert/Allen playing poorly, Chris Chiozza (2 points on 1-6) and Garrett Temple (3 points on 1-5) were extremely underwhelming in this game. The Nets, as a team, failed to stop Orlando on the break and had no answer for Evan Fournier (24 points), Nikola Vucevic (22 points), Johnathon Issac (16 points), and Aaron Gordon (10 points & 11 rebounds).

Brooklyn: 118 vs. Washington: 110 – Full Box Score

Things went much differently for Brooklyn in Game #2. While they were unable to stop Thomas Bryant of the Wizards the entire game, who went for 30 points and 13 rebounds, everyone on the floor played significantly better for Brooklyn and were able to win a close contest in the 4th, outscoring the Wizards 35 to 25 in the final quarter.

Caris LeVert (34 points), Joe Harris (27 points & 6 made threes), and Jarrett Allen (22 points & 15 rebounds) rebounded well from their subpar performances in the Orlando game, and all played up to their potential. Chris Chiozza finally decided to show up, dropping 14 points and dishing out 6 dimes off the bench. No other player was in double figures for Brooklyn, but they were able to pull out a much-needed win against Washington, who might win the title for “worst team left in the NBA restart.”

Brooklyn: 119 vs. Milwaukee: 116 – Full Box Score

Even though the Brooklyn Nets won a much-needed contest against the Wizards, many doubted their chances against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon. Jacque Vaughn even decided this game would be a great time to rest his most important three starters; Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. The spread was as high as -18 before the game began. But never forget that old adage, that’s why you play the game.

The Nets stunned Giannis and the Bucks in the first half, hitting 14 shots from three-point land, a season-high for Brooklyn. TLC finished the game with 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point line. Garrett Temple chipped in with 19 points and had his best game of the season as well.

The Nets led the Bucks 73 – 65 after the 1st half, and that was a half in which Giannis and Middleton each played a significant amount of minutes. Those two players were on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, a strategy most would assume was the Bucks plan prior to tip-off. While the Bucks clawed their way back into the game by outscoring the Nets in the final two quarters, Brooklyn was able to show toughness and resolve we hadn’t seen from them since March in the final few minutes of the game. Whether it was a clutch TLC three or a gritty Tyler Johnson rebound and put back, the Nets made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win the game.

Some other guys who gave the Nets great minutes: Donta Hall, who only scored 4 points and grabbed 9 boards, had an epic dust-up with Giannis after the two were wrestling for a rebound and Giannis ended up on the ground. Hall also had a highlight-reel block on Sterling Brown later in the game as well. Justin Anderson gave the Nets 11 off the bench, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. Chiozza had a nice 10 point 10 assist game and has proven to be an excellent decision-maker in these last few games.

The Bad News: Jamal Crawford made his highly anticipated Nets debut, only to leave the game after a few minutes with some type of hamstring injury. His return to the court this season is now questionable.

Biggest Takeaway from first 3 Games & What’s Next?

Three games in, if anything about this team, it’s that they are extremely tough, and it will take a lot to break this team’s will. Many fans assumed the team would try and tank after their embarrassing loss to Orlando. The Nets followed that game up with two close wire to wire wins against Washington and Milwaukee. In that Milwaukee game, 8 of the 11 active players on the roster were G-League players at some point this season. The Nets will not shoot this well from three every game, and TLC/Garrett Temple most likely will not combine for 45 points on a nightly basis, but you have to like what you’re seeing from this Nets team through three games. Jacque Vaughn has done an outstanding coaching job with the Net’s gameplan these last two games, especially for Milwaukee, in which the team primarily ran a 2-3 zone on defense, and really seems to be coming into his own as Head Coach of this team.

Next Up: The Brooklyn Nets will go for their 3rd straight win when they face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday (8/5/20) night at 9:00 pm EST.

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Knicks reportedly want to add a number of player development coaches to staff

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks are a very young team, and with seven first-round draft picks over the next four years they aren’t getting any younger. Knicks president Leon Rose seems to understand the importance of player development, and according to Ian Bagley of SNY he’s making a big effort to address that department:

There is internal consideration in the organization to hire a significant number of player-development coaches for Thibodeau’s staff, per SNY sources.

To clarify, these coaches would not be replacing the assistant coaches Thibodeau would want to bring in for his staff. Instead, they’ll be hired in addition to Thibodeau’s coaches, which means that the Knicks coaching staff will be expanding.

This is a very logical and smart move by Rose and the Knicks, as the development of their young roster is critical to the team’s success both now and long-term. Thibodeau seemed to be in lockstep with Rose on this, as he pointed out the need for strong player development during his introductory press conference on Thursday.

Begley also mentions how former Knicks head coach David Fizdale had one of the smallest player development staff and coaching staff in general during his tenure. It seems expanding player development coaching has become a common practice around the league, with other teams, especially rebuilding ones, already going down that path in recent years.

Thibodeau also stated that he plans to utilize the G League in regards to player development as well. This is very encouraging and something the Knicks didn’t really take advantage of last year. It was reported over the last couple of days that former vice president of player development Craig Robinson wanted to give some of the young players who weren’t seeing a lot of minutes more time in the G League so they could get more playing time, but general manager Scott Perry, who Rose retained, felt as if it would be too big of a demotion.

Fortunately, it seems as though Rose and Thibodeau are on the same page in that they believe in using the G League more, so hopefully, they stick to that thinking cause it can really be beneficial.

Overall, it seems as though the new Knicks regime is serious about making sure they are able to properly develop their youth, and expanding the coaching staff to bring in more people that specialize in that area is a very wise move. It will be interesting to see who the Knicks add to pair with Thibodeau and the coaches he chooses to join him.

New York Knicks: Key Takeaways from Thibodeau’s Press Conference

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

With the news becoming official on Thursday that the New York Knicks have officially named Tom Thibodeau, the 31st head coach in franchise history, the Knicks had their first virtual press conference to introduce Thibodeau later that day formally. Aside from Thibodeau, president Leon Rose and general manager Scott Perry were on the press conference that was conducted via Zoom. A lot of questions were asked, and a lot of notable answers were given, such as Thibodeau talking about how he is looking to coach the team and how he plans on developing the young roster, so with that, let’s dive into some major takeaways from the press conference.

New York Knicks’ head coaching position is Thibodeau’s dream job

Thibodeau made it clear from the beginning that being the head coach of the Knicks is his dream job and a challenge that he has been preparing for his whole career. Growing up in Connecticut, Thibodeau and his family were Knicks fans. He also has a professional history with the team from his seven seasons as an assistant coach under Jeff Van Gundy, which was the last time the Knicks were a consistent league powerhouse and championship contender. Here’s what Thibodeau said when talking about how much this Knicks head coaching job means to him (quotes per Marc Berman of the New York Post):

This is my dream job. … Maybe part of that, I grew up in Connecticut. My father, my family, we grew up as Knicks fans. I’ve been there before, I have a great understanding of New York. I think we have the best city in the world, best arena and the best fans. I was there throughout the ’90s and that was an incredible experience.

It’s very cool to see how Thibodeau’s career has come full circle, with him now returning to the place where he got his first major coaching experience for a prolonged period of time. You can tell how excited he is to be back and how ready he feels he is for this challenge of coaching the Knicks back to relevance.

He will work together with the front office staff

A key element to any head coaching tenure being successful is the relationship between the coach and the front office personnel above him. If they aren’t largely in sync with one another and are butting heads most of the time, the team won’t go anywhere, and people will lose their jobs quickly. Luckily, this doesn’t seem like it will be a problem for the Knicks’ current regime, as Thibodeau has a strong, long-standing relationship with Rose and executive Vice President/senior basketball advisor William Wesley from their CAA days and Thibodeau being a CAA client.

Rose repeatedly touted Thibodeau as the “perfect” coach for this Knicks team and for creating a winning culture going forward. When it comes to Thibodeau’s coaching staff, it looks like choosing the coaches will be a collaborative effort. Thibodeau expressed great confidence in the ability of he and the front office to work together in assembling the right coaching staff:

I think you always sit down with your front office to go over the people you think can help…I’m confident that we’re going to sit down, I’m going to listen [to] the people that they have, I’m going to recommend some people that I know. Some of them are going to be on both lists. I’m e comfortable with that. I think we’re going to get a great staff and I’m looking forward to getting started with it.

Thibodeau mentioned that no decisions have been made yet, but it is expected that Mike Woodson, former Knicks head coach, and Mike Miller, the Knicks interim head coach this season, will be two members of the coaching staff. Names such as Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne and longtime Thibodeau assistants Andy Grier and Dice Yoshimoto have been thrown around as well.

RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson receive praise

When asked about the current team and players that may have stood out to Thibodeau, two names were mentioned: RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. He says he doesn’t want to make any qualifications about players until he meets them in person and gets to work with them, but Thibodeau admitted that those two players impressed him when he watched Knicks games from this season:

Based on film, I really think RJ has a very bright future as does Mitchell Robinson. Those are two who stand out. But we have a lot of young talent.

When asked about other players on the roster who have underperformed thus far in their young careers, such as Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, Thibodeau pointed out that they certainly have talent, but have experienced growing pains like many young players do:

With Frank and Kevin, they’re both young guys that have talent…Like most young players, there are growing pains you go through and there’s steps players have to take. Sometimes we measure guys against guys already established and you forget the steps those guys have to take to get to where they are. It’s an important part of it.

Thibodeau noted that a player’s determination and work ethic is how they get to that point and develop their games. When talking about the kind of rebuild he would be taking on with the Knicks, he admitted that there is a lot of work to be done. Rose claimed there isn’t a set time frame for the rebuild, and they will take everything one day at a time.

Thibodeau seems willing to adjust his coaching style

One of the more pressing questions surrounding Thibodeau is his willingness to adapt his coaching style to fit the modern NBA more. When asked about it, he seemed open towards it, which was refreshing to hear.

He was asked more specifically about his past preference of playing two traditional big men and his strong use of the post-up game, which are both seen as outdated in the modern NBA as teams are going smaller with their lineups. While he thinks that utilizing the post still comes in handy on certain occasions, Thibodeau agreed with the sentiment that the league has changed since his coaching days with the Chicago Bulls and even the Minnesota Timberwolves to an extent. He also noted that no coach should ever want to stay the same.

Another big criticism towards Thibodeau that was brought up during the press conference was his reputation for playing his players too many minutes and running them into the ground. He addressed this by talking about the fact that many elite offensive players were playing at least 30 minutes a game back when he was coaching, so he needed to have his top defenders out there in order for his team to not be at a disadvantage. Thibodeau did recognize that with the increased use of load management, those minutes are going down for most players, and therefore he would work with the trainers and sports scientists to make sure the players aren’t overworked.

Now, whether or not he will actually practice what he preached remains to be seen, but Knicks fans should feel good about Thibodeau’s response to those questions and the fact that he didn’t seem close-minded towards the idea of modernizing the way he coaches like many people speculated he might be.

New York Knicks: Devin Vassell Could Be The Perfect Plug and Play Draft Pick

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks will be participating in the NBA Draft Lottery on August 25th, 2020. That event is approximately four weeks from today and there’s a possibility of the Knick franchise luckily jumping into the top three in the draft lottery. There’s also the possibility of the Knicks sliding into the ninth, tenth, or eleventh spot in the first round on draft lottery night. If the latter happens in which the Knicks fall in the draft lottery, there are some interesting prospects to choose from. One prospect that’s intriguing is 6’6″ 195lbs shooting guard by the name of Devin Vassell out of Florida State University. With Tom Thibodeau taking over the reins as head coach of the Knicks, Vassell could be the perfect plug and play draft pick.

The 6’6″ shooting guard is a defensive menace who knows how to use his 6’10” wingspan to anticipate opposing offensive attacks, block shots and play passing lanes on defense. Vassell is an elite perimeter defender.

The point of release on Vassell’s jumper is ridiculously high, therefore, he really could shoot over anybody without getting his shot blocked due to his above-average wingspan. His high defensive IQ and motor are two key attributes in his game Tom Thibodeau would love. In addition to his other valuable offensive skill which is his three-point shooting, Vassell also flashed his ability to finish above the rim. The New York Knicks can’t lose drafting a talent like Vassell. He’d fit right into Thibodeau’s defensive schemes. Plus, offensively he’s a catch and shoot threat with potential to eventually become a deadly overall shot maker.

In college Vassell averaged 12.7-points per game along with 5.1-rebounds and 1.6-assists during his 2019-20 campaign at Florida State University. He shot nearly 42% from three and 49% from the field. He averaged 1.4-steals and a block per game during the 2019-20 season. The defensive-minded shooting guard put up these stats while playing 28.8- minutes per contest.

Overall, Devin Vassell is an athletic piece that’ll fit into the Knicks young core from the jump, and Coach Tom Thibodeau would have a field day in bringing him along and showing him the ropes. Defense and three-point shooting is needed on the Knicks. Devin Vassell is a two-way player and the Knicks must pounce on him if the situation is right.

New York Knicks: Julius Randle Could Be A Dark-Horse Candidate To Improve Under New Head Coach

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

New York Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau tends to get the most out of flawed yet talented players. There is a possibility of fans being shocked about what Thibodeau is able to pull out of Julius Randle, especially defensively, if the Knicks actually decide to keep Randle and not ship him elsewhere before next season begins.

The Knicks head coaching position is Tom Thibodeau’s dream job. Thibodeau has a phenomenal understanding of New York due to his time as an assistant for the Knicks from 1996-2003 and the fact that as a youngster, his household grew him up as a Knick fan in Connecticut. Thibs will impact the young Knicks core in a positive way. High motor players tend to thrive under Thibs in the past. Therefore, Julius Randle could be a dark-horse candidate to improve under the new head coach.

The brilliant Tom Thibodeau, who spent four years at Harvard during the late 1980s could definitely relate to Julius Randle when it comes to attacking the boards for rebounds. Thibs was a rebounding machine in 1976 while playing for his high school alumni New Britain High.

Thibodeau, a 6’1″ senior at the time, pulled down 22-rebounds during an upset over Hartford Public. George Lynn, New Britain’s coach, called it one of the best wins he ever had in his coaching career. Thibodeau was relentless then, and he’s relentless now. The relentless competitiveness from Thibodeau may rub off on Julius Randle, who’s actually already a competitive player who may need the reigns pulled back for him occasionally. Could Thibs help tone down the often reckless Randle on the offensive side of the basketball court?

Can the New York Knicks find the best in Julius Randle?

Julius Randle is such a beast physically. He can snatch an offensive rebound, finish around the rim, then guard multiple positions on defense. He has great work ethic and a very strong physical upper body and motor. These characteristics will not rub Tom Thibodeau the wrong way. Julius Randle never played for a winning coach in the NBA. Tom Thibodeau would technically be the first winning coach Randle has played for in the National Basketball Association, and it’s finally going to happen in Randle’s seventh year in the league.

Randle and Thibs have some similarities. One similarity the two share is their love of rebounding. The new head coach hiring could be the best thing to ever happen to Randle in his young NBA career. Or it could be a disaster in which the two are so similar that they bump heads often. Only time will tell Knick fans. Stay tuned!

New York Knicks: Mental Fortitude Is Vital For Tom Thibodeau’s System

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

New York Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau‘s style has always been hard-hitting when it came to getting the most out of his players on both ends. However, stingy defense along with hustle plays is what Coach Tom Thibodeau holds near and dear to his heart. The young New York Knicks core will find out real soon how vital mental fortitude is for Tom Thibodeau’s system.

Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School interviewed aspiring journalist Adam Taylor who’s currently the lead writer for CelticsBlog.com. The interview was on July 28th, 2020 on The Hoops Spy Podcast. At the 5:11 segment of the podcast, Jonathan Macri asks Adam Taylor for his opinion on Tom Thibodeau’s coaching in New York. Adam Taylor responded with the following statement:

I was against it when it first dropped. My concern was, with the youth you guys got in New York, I always believed Kenny Atkinson was the guy for the job. I kind of convinced myself that he was going to get it because I believed he deserved a shot at that young core, he was the best for player development. Thibs could be the guy that comes in, slowly brings along these guys and he’s going to test the mental fortitude of the core that’s there and the ones who aren’t mentally strong enough are the ones that are going to go. To be honest with you if your going to win an NBA championship, if your going to be the best then you’ll need that mental fortitude. So maybe he’s in the right place at the right time to weed out the guys that aren’t mentally strong enough to make it to that next level.

BREAKING: Knicks hire Tom Thibodeau as head coach

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks and new president Leon Rose have finally come to a decision on their new head coach after a thorough and diligent process that lasted weeks. They interviewed about a dozen candidates multiple times for the job, but in the end the Knicks went with the guy who had been considered the favorite since the day Rose was hired:

Despite Tom Thibodeau, 62, being the most likely candidate due to his strong relationships with Rose and Knicks new executive Vice President William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, rumors started swirling in recent days about the Knicks and Thibodeau running into problems over contract discussions and Jason Kidd becoming the new favorite for the job. Fortunately those reports either ended up being false or the two sides were able to come to an agreement, because Thibodeau is the new leader of the pack.

Thibodeau has a great head coaching résumé, having coached the Chicago Bulls for five seasons and then Minnesota Timberwolves for two and a half seasons. He has a total win-loss record of 352-246 which gives him a .589 winning percentage. That ranks him 11th in NBA history in winning percentage among coaches who have coached at least 500 games.

Thibodeau has a total of six playoff appearances, five with the Bulls and one with the Timberwolves. He led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 after finishing 62-20 in the regular season, and they were widely considered title favorites that year until injuries to point guard Derrick Rose, who won the MVP that year, derailed their championship aspirations.

Having a head coach who brings plenty of playoff experience and knows how to get a team there is exactly the kind of direction this young Knicks team needs. Thibodeau also isn’t new to the team he will now officially be coaching, as he was an assistant coach for the Knicks for seven seasons under Jeff Van Gundy. So not only does Thibodeau have some familiarity with the Knicks and the New York market, he also knows what it was like when the Knicks were good. Under Van Gundy the Knicks were a powerhouse and a perennial playoff team, even making it to the NBA Finals in 1998-99, and Thibodeau was there for pretty much that whole era. Thibodeau later made the Finals twice as an assistant for the Boston Celtics under Doc Rivers, having won it all with them in 2007-08 before eventually becoming a head coach.

Thibodeau is a widely respected around basketball and has been around the game for a very long time. He is known as an elite defensive mind who is also good at developing players and getting the most out of his guys. He is also extremely hard-working and passionate about the game. He does have a bit of a reputation for overworking his players and being a too tough at times, but he has reportedly been studying the changes to the game since he’s been out of coaching and learning from what went wrong in his past experiences in order to properly adjust his coaching style.

At the end of the day, Knick fans can only hope for the best. They’ve been down this road countless times before and can only pray that Thibodeau is the head coach that finally sticks around longer than two years and leads the Knicks back to contention. He may not be perfect, but Thibodeau is a strong hire who has the track record and work ethic that you look for in a head coach. He is a leader and a proven winner, and he should have great camaraderie with the front office.

Now that the head coaching decision has been made, it will be very interesting to see who is brought in to fill out Thibodeau’s coaching staff. Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller and former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson are two names that interviewed for the current head coaching position and have been heavily linked to possible assistant coaching spots if they didn’t get the job. Once the staff is put together, Thibodeau and the Knicks will turn their full attention towards preparing for free agency and the NBA Draft.

There is still a lot of work ahead for the Knicks in the coming months, but they have gotten off to a good start and now they have tackled one of their most important tasks with a big-time hire.

Should New York Knicks consider trading for Kevin Love?

New York Knicks, Kevin Love

The New York Knicks and new president Leon Rose have a very unique but busy offseason in front of them. The new regime is still deciding on a new head coach, and once they complete that, they need to turn their attention towards preparing for free agency and October’s NBA Draft. If that wasn’t already hard enough under regular circumstances, they have had to navigate through the restrictions presented by the current COVID-19 pandemic that has and continues to rattle both the sports world and the nation as a whole.

Some things never change, however, as the trade rumors that usually surface around this time of year are doing so once again. The Knicks have been linked to a number of players so far, from Chris Paul to Devin Booker to DeMar DeRozan. But how about another player who hasn’t really been mentioned much, at least not yet, who could make some sense for New York? That player is Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love.

Now, don’t worry, that look of disgust you probably just made after reading that sentence is totally understandable. I made a similar one at first, and I would prefer the Knicks stay away from Love for a number of reasons. However, there is a case to be made for bringing in a veteran of Love’s caliber.

The main argument for the New York Knicks considering Kevin Love:

The main argument for acquiring Love would be his shooting. Love is a great shooter, and the Knicks are a team in desperate need of great shooting. Before the NBA season was shut down, the Knicks ranked 30th in points per game and 28th in offensive efficiency. In terms of shooting, they were 24th in field goal percentage, 27th in two-point percentage, 29th in effective field goal percentage, and dead last in true shooting percentage. Behind the three-point line, they were even worse, as they ranked 27th in three-point percentage and last in threes made per game by a wide margin. They were also abysmal at the free-throw line shooting a putrid 69.4 percent, which was last in the league, and it wasn’t even close.

Needless to say, the Knicks need a lot of help on the offensive side of the ball, and Love can bring that. With career shooting percentages of 44.2 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three, the 12-year veteran and 5x All-Star would provide the Knicks with a legitimate scoring big man whose game could fit nicely alongside a defensive-minded center like Mitchell Robinson. Love’s years of experience and possible insight on the game could also prove to be very valuable to a Knicks team filled with young players, as he has been to the postseason multiple times and has a championship to show for it.

Despite these benefits of adding Love to the team, plus the fact that he should be relatively easy to acquire in terms of what the Knicks would have to give up, the negatives simply outweigh the positives. The main burden is his contract. Love signed a 4-year, $120 million dollar contract extension with the Cavaliers back in 2018, which is paying him close to $29 million dollars this season. The next two seasons that number rises to over $31 million dollars, then it falls back down to $29 million in 2022, and Love becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Having that much money tied to a player who has had injury concerns throughout his career and is on the wrong side of 30 is not ideal, to say the least.

On top of that, Love reportedly had problems with former Cavaliers head coach John Beilein this season and was not afraid to voice his displeasure through public outbursts at both Beilein and the front office. Tim McMahon, co-host of the ‘Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective’ podcast, talked about the role Love played in driving out Beilein:

“Kevin Love did everything but rent a billboard saying Beilein sucks. There was zero percent chance of Beilein, and it wasn’t gonna work regardless, but with Kevin Love around, that was gonna be a complete disaster. Because he was going to make it clear how much he thought this coach was over his head, and he was gonna be right.”

Love also showed frustration with teammates at times as a result of the constant losing, acting childish numerous times on the court, and displaying no class whatsoever. Who’s to say he won’t act up again if the Knicks continue to lose next season and beyond. This isn’t to say that Love is a bad person, but taking a gamble on a veteran who has a history of showing poor leadership at times is the absolute last thing the Knicks need right now.

Look, Love is a great player and a strong mental health advocate. He averaged 18.2 points and 11.1 rebounds for his career, and in 56 games for the Cavaliers this season, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. But, while Love would undoubtedly boost the Knicks offense, there are just too many questions marks for them to commit so much money to him. If they trade for him and it comes back to bite them, that could set the Knicks back even further and stunt their rebuilding plan.

 

New York Jets VIDEO: Sam Darnold takes the court with Klay Thompson

Set to return to the gridiron, the New York Jets quarterback hit the hardwood alongside a fellow Golden State sports legend.

If anyone in the NBA’s Orlando bubble needs any help over the next few weeks, Sam Darnold may be on hand to assist.

In video posted by Instagram user @ChrisBennett143, the New York Jets quarterback and two of his passing counterparts traded in the pigskin for the roundball alongside NBA All-Star Klay Thompson. Known for throwing six-pointers, Darnold tosses up several triples from long-range alongside the Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard. Darnold is continuing to prepare for the upcoming NFL season alongside Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Kyle Allen of Washington (no relation). The trio has been working with former draft pick Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson) in California.

Darnold’s basketball prowess shouldn’t come as any surprise. Like Thompson, Darnold got his athletic start on Southern California’s high school scene. He was a two-sport athlete at San Clemente High School and his basketball accolades include league MVP honors. His high school coach Marc Popovich believed that Darnold could’ve played college basketball in the Pac-12 Conference and that his hoops prowess helped his case on the football field.

“Basketball, a lot of times, especially with our style of play, was kind of free-flowing in a way,” Popovich said to Alex Kirshner of SB Nation in November 2016. “There was not necessarily something set every single time down, so he had to get used to playing that way. I think that definitely helped in football. He’d had those things where he’s had bad snaps and he’s rolled out and completed a 32-yard pass, and kind of ridiculous stuff like that. And I think in those improvising situations, the basketball really helps. The ability to read defenses, to see where your teammates are, all that stuff really translates.”

ESM’s own Dylan Price wrote about Darnold’s basketball exploits earlier this month.

Darnold instead shifted fully to football and threw for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns over two seasons as the starter at the University of Souther California. That came several years after Thompson also burst onto the scene in the Pac-12 with the Washington State Cougars men’s basketball program. Thompson’s No. 1 was retired in Pullman during their January tilt against Oregon State.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Lamelo Ball reportedly wants to be a Knick, what does this mean?

New York Knicks, Lamelo Ball

The NBA Draft Lottery may not be until August 25, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see our fair share of New York Knicks draft rumors from now until then. They’ve already begun to circulate with the Knicks not participating in the Orlando NBA restart later this month, as teams speculate that top prospect LaMelo Ball and members of his circle want him to end up in New York, according to Ian Begley of SNY:

As teams do their homework on players in the draft, there’s been a consistent theme about LaMelo Ball: multiple teams believe Ball and those in his circle prefer that he lands in New York. (Those teams have picks projected later in the first round than the Knicks, for what it’s worth.)

The Knicks currently have just a 9 percent chance to get the first overall pick and 37.2 percent chance to land in the top four. If they wanted Ball, however, they would likely need to land a top-three pick at least. They do have assets to trade up if they so choose, such as the Clippers first-round pick and the Mavericks 2021 and 2023 first-round picks, but it remains to be seen if that’s what they would do.

Ball’s outspoken father, Lavar, has never been shy to express his opinion and has made it known multiple times that he wants his son on the New York Knicks. The most recent time was during an appearance on the ‘Say Less with Kaz’ podcast last month, where Lavar explained why he felt the Knicks were an ideal landing spot for not only LaMelo but all three of his sons:

They don’t have anything. The last time they won a championship was back in the 1970s. The bright lights, you need a whole new turnaround over there. The person I want to see (LaMelo) play with – he can play with anybody. I want to see him play (with), they got to know this – if you getting Melo, you getting Gelo (LiAngelo Ball). That boy shoot the heck out of that ball. Play with chemistry with (LaMelo) better than everybody ever. And after that you have a chance to get ‘Zo (Lonzo Ball). You don’t need one person to change no franchise. You need a whole culture change, and that takes all three of my boys. All three of my boys on the same team? Who ain’t going to watch that show? That would be the biggest show in the NBA ever.

Lavar’s confidence in his boys is admirable, but the prerequisites he’s demanding could give the Knicks or any team pause about drafting his son. Lavar brings with him a lot of drama and bad press if he doesn’t get what he wants, and the last thing the Knicks need is more of that. Wanting the Knicks to bring in all three of the Ball brothers is a lot to ask for and could disrupt their own plan on how to build the roster.

Lonzo Ball is a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and is in the third year of his rookie contract. He’s set to be a restricted free agent in 2021, which means the Pelicans have the right to match any offer the Knicks might make. LiAngelo Ball is a member of the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League, so he’ll be much easier to sign, but the Knicks might not see him as talented enough for the roster.

The New York Knicks would be a great fit for LeMelo Ball

However, if the Knicks are on board or work out some kind of compromise, then LaMelo Ball could be a fantastic fit. Standing at 6’8” and just over 180 lbs, Ball possesses superb size for the position. He also has excellent court vision and passing ability, as he possesses rare playmaking traits for someone his age. He’ll need to become a more consistent shooter and better defender, but the potential is there in both areas. Ball has tremendous upside and all the tools to be the franchise point guard the Knicks have been desperately lacking for a long time.

In 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia, Ball averaged about 17 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in just over 31 minutes a game. He shot 37.5 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three.

Now, as enticing as Ball is, the Knicks still need the lottery luck in order to land him despite all the rumors. Plus, the talk of him wanting to be a Knick is nothing new for fans as similar rumors surfaced with Zion Williamson last year and with Stephen Curry back in 2009, among others. The team did reportedly have Ball ranked as their top point guard in the draft, but it remains to be seen whether or not Leon Rose and his new front office will be aggressive in getting their guy if they aren’t in position to pick him.