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All eyes will be on Derrick Rose when the Knicks open camp Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
All eyes will be on Derrick Rose when the Knicks open camp Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive


With training camp primed to get underway Tuesday here are five of the more pressing questions facing the Knicks entering this season.

What impact will Derrick Rose have?

As splashy as New York's acquisition of Rose was, that's how big the question mark surrounding his contributions truly is at this point. His health is a concern, but following a 66-game campaign last season, perhaps his ability to stay on the court is trending in the right direction.

More uncertainty looms over his level of play. As Rose regains his health, can he inch closer to the more dominant player he once was? If not, will last season's numbers (16.4 points on 43 percent from the field and 4.7 assists) be enough to help the Knicks? Competing at a high level will be key, but it also remains to be seen how his forthcoming trial play into the team's schedule. That's not the type of dark cloud they want looming over their season, especially so early on as they embrace a more positive culture.

Will Joakim Noah remain healthy?

If things go south with Rose, the Knicks can cut their losses and escape without too many bruises. His contract expires next summer, so they won't be on the hook.

That's not the case with Noah, however. The decision to sign him to a lucrative $70 million, four-year contract has already been met with criticism. Following a 29 game season, many wonder if Noah's body (and his level of play, for that matter) will hold up over the course of his contract. Reeling him in for this long, and for that much, is a risk.

His signing, however, is further proof that the Knicks are committed to winning sooner than later. If healthy enough, Noah's acquisition will pay big dividends. He's a physical player who does all of the dirty work down low. A seemingly perfect complement (and mentor) to Kristaps Porzingis, Noah's court-vision should open things up for New York on offense as well.

Is there enough point guard depth? 

Health and off the court issues aside, Rose is a massive upgrade from what the Knicks have had at point guard over the last two seasons. Pairing him up with Brandon Jennings (who has started 416 out of 460 career games with a 15.5 point per game average) makes the position a newfound strength for the team.

Despite a skillful 1-2 punch, the rigorous NBA season typically demands three floor generals in a team's depth chart. This should bode especially true for the Knicks, given the pair's injury history.

Following a strong Summer League, Chasson Randle could certainly be the answer. There's an outside chance he makes the roster out of camp, but more possibilities could arise when January (and the ability to sign players to 10-day contracts) arrives. If need be, New York could always make a move and sign a veteran guard midway through the season as well.

If Phil Jackson fails again, then what?

So far into his tenure as Knicks president, Jackson boasts two losing seasons, one of which stands as the worst in franchise history. This summer was met with a variety of moves, featuring upgrades at multiple positions and an experienced head coach. On paper, one would be hard pressed to deny the Knicks look ready and able to end their three year playoff drought.

Should this season result in yet another failure, where will Jackson go from there? Will he resign from his post and leave the Knicks hanging? If Jackson decides to see things through, he'll be met with decisions surrounding contracts the team has committed to, including Noah, Carmelo Anthony, Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas, etc. If things don't work out, Jackson will have a hole to crawl out of. That's even further proof that the time to win is now. The pressure is on.

How high is the ceiling for Kristaps Porzingis?

At just 21 years old, some have been quick to declare Jackson's initial first-round draft selection as a budding superstar. Following some awing individual performances, a strong freshman campaign, and a runner-up finish to Karl-Anthony Towns for the NBA's "Rookie of the Year" award, there's no doubt the future is bright for this shooting star. How high can he go, is the question.

In addition to high, how soon will Porzingis fly is another question to ponder. Should he make significant strides this coming season, will it be enough to dub the youngster Anthony's true right hand man and sidekick, over the likes of Rose and others? Porzingis' continued ascension will play a big role in what the Knicks do, both in the near future (competitively speaking) and the somewhat distant future (seeking improvements during next summer's free agency period).

The Knicks know Porzingis has the ability. This season is about building up a greater level of consistency and versatility while proving to be all the more dependable as a central piece of the team.

Bonus: How will Jeff Hornacek's tenure begin? 

 There's no denying that Hornacek was a surprise selection for the Knicks' coaching vacancy, given Jackson's track record and past preferences. Nevertheless, it's tough to ignore Hornacek's experience as both a player and coach and his past success. There should be optimism surrounding the possibilities, especially when taking into account Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis were the team's previous coaches. This is an upgrade.


Motivating the players and getting them to buy into his vision for success will be key. Resonating with Anthony, the team's resident superstar, and Noah, a newly arriving defensive anchor, will be most important. What's more, observing the continued growth of Hornacek's relationship with Jackson will be interesting. The two will need to get along smoothly.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

While a hot topic during Phil Jackson and Co.'s press conference Friday was Derrick Rose's forthcoming trial, Jackson did manage to discuss the Knicks' overall potential.

The team made major improvements this past summer. They filled key voids. This offseason's recruitment period was different than in years past during Jackson's tenure. That's because instead of just playing the waiting game or attempting to fill holes with stopgap players, he had clear-cut goals and subsequent targets.

As he discussed them further, it makes sense New York had a solid offseason. Jackson outlined the aspects of his squad that needed upgrades, starting with "support for our stars," naming Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

Penetration: Going into the offseason, a much improved and quicker point guard was needed: someone who could attack the basket and open up opportunities for others. Looking at the summer's free agent crop, the options were slim to none. Jose Calderon's contract weighed the team down. But Jackson created his own avenue, executing the surprising trade for Rose (exactly the type of talent this team needs) and trading Calderon's contract in the process. Mission accomplished.

"[Carmelo] understands Derrick's explosiveness," Jackson said. "I think he's going to feel most comfortable allowing [Rose and Brandon Jennings] to do what they're best at."

That, of course, includes bringing the ball up and commanding an offense.

Rebounding and Defense:  Jackson rattled these two things off together as well. Robin Lopez was a revelation last season, anchoring the team's defense in all 82 games. With three years remaining on his ever-reasonable contract, Lopez seemed like the answer down low. But trading him for Rose shifted a void that needed to be filled, and in came Joakim Noah. Say what you will about his contract, but his instincts, intensity and physicality are all deniable on the defensive end.

Jackson praised Noah's vocal leadership, adding that his familiarity with Rose as a former teammate was something New York valued. An increased comfort level with one another was something the Knicks wanted their players to have. Jackson alluded to Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez being former teammates as well.

All in all, the summer's end goal was obvious, and on paper, it appears as though the Knicks accomplished what they set out to do.

"The level of talent on this team will lead to [Carmelo] thinking, 'I don't have to do everything,'" head coach Jeff Hornacek concluded.

 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Knicks will let "the due process of the justice system" play out regarding Derrick Rose's upcoming civil trial, team president Phil Jackson said Friday.

Jackson said the team was hopeful the trial wouldn't impact Rose's season.

When asked whether the team investigated the rape allegations before trading for Rose, Jackson wouldn't comment.

Rose's trial is set to begin on Oct. 4, which is the night the Knicks will open the preseason.

Earlier this month, a federal judge again refused to dismiss the suit, which claims that Rose and two friends drugged and gang-raped a woman after breaking in to her home.

Rose has denied the allegations.

Tags: Danny Abriano

 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

As Jose Reyes raced around the bases after hitting a game-tying, two run, home run for the Mets last night at Citi Field I received a great tweet from a loyal Knicks fan putting the moment into perfect perspective.



Energy is infectious to good teams and many times it can make all the difference when it matters most. When Reyes came back to the Mets, fans were skeptical of his issues off the field, but most were sure that he was finished on it. Boy, were they wrong.

Reyes, 33, has been nothing short of terrific for the Mets on the field and in the clubhouse -- where teammates are raving about him. It's his energy that gets the Mets going when they are down, and that's something that can't be quantified by sabermetrics.

So as the Knicks enter the 2016-17 campaign they also do so with a fiery, energetic player in Joakim Noah -- a player who has as strong a "motor" as the league has seen since Dennis Rodman. Ask any NBA scout and they will tell you when evaluating young players coming into the league that "motor" is a huge factor when drafting a big player, and their immediate comparisons are to Rodman and Noah. That says it all.

Noah is relentless and that effort can send positive shockwaves throughout the entire team. It can lead players to new levels and it made Noah the fan favorite in Chicago for nine very successful years.

Yes, Noah has his own version of "The Dunk" in Chicago.

In terms of expectations I know what you're thinking: He's not the same player at 31 years old that he was at 28, and you're right. But the reality is for the Knicks to be as good as they can be, Noah doesn't have to be an MVP candidate. What he needs to do is pace himself and listen to his body to ensure he plays around 2,000 minutes this year plus playoffs.

I believe in large sample sizes and if you factor the average number of total regular season minutes Noah played in the eight prior years (2,026), the expectation for 2,000 minutes is very reasonable. In those eight seasons, Noah averaged 68 regular season games.

While it's easy to be worried about last season's production in terms of on-court statistics, there's no need to deviate far from the projected 2,000 minutes and 68 games played. Noah was never the focal point of the Bulls' offense under Tom Thibodeau and, to be fair, it was clear he wasn't Fred Hoiberg's type of player. That happens when coaches change jobs in basketball. Noah should fit in very well with Derrick Rose, as the duo had some incredible moments in Chicago.

Let's start on the defensive end because the Knicks saw their most positive step last year there, going from 28th to 18th in defensive rating per A big reason for this was the leap in rebounding going from 29th to 10th overall.

A realistic expectation for Noah from a defensive rebounding perspective based off 2,000 regular season minutes is 414 total rebounds, which would amount to 6.1 defensive rebounds per game. In total, Noah has averaged 641 total rebounds per season, which would amount to 9.4 in those 68 regular season games. Robin Lopez averaged 7.3 rebounds per game while playing in all of the Knicks' 82 games last season.

Adding a player of Noah's caliber to a team that already has a strong rebounding core led by a now dedicated Carmelo Anthony (7.7) and Kristaps Porzingis (7.3) on the glass allows for Noah to do his job, and that's bring energy and effort. The Knicks have capable offensive players, and Noah and Courtney Lee will be asked to do all the little things to help the team win games.

Noah's biggest weakness, besides being injury prone, is that he struggles to finish shots around the basket. I expect that to be a given and it will pose a real problem when playing against teams that want to push pace and get out in transition.

The Knicks were an atrocious transition team last year and Porzingis and Anthony together are a slow duo. A banged-up Noah missing baskets at the rim can really put the Knicks at a disadvantage in transition, and I expect the league to figure that out pretty quickly.

As far as his contract, let's put this into perspective. Noah is currently the 35th highest-paid player in the NBA. Let's face it, by the end of his contract, he may not even be in the top-75 based on the growth trends in the NBA. Teams pay for rebounding because, like motor, it's a commodity.

It won't take long for Noah to make new fans, and in many respects he already has. But he also has his doubters who want to marry him to a long-term, big money deal.

Some things are hard to put a price tag on and in my opinion, motor and energy are definitely two of them. If Noah can have a pretty manageable "average" year, the Knicks will be a much better team for it.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

The Knicks certainly paid a pretty penny (four-year, $72 million) to acquire Joakim Noah this past offseason. His health is a cause for concern, which puts the contract he signed (and New York's decision to offer it) into question.

However, as far as actual basketball is concerned, it's tough to deny his potential to help his new team, if he can stay on the court.

"It's an expensive price, but I like his tenacity and defensive communication skills, coupled with his passing ability," former Knicks coach and current ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy said on Anthony Donahue's 33rd and 7th podcast for the

"When you have a front-court of [Carmelo] Anthony, [Kristaps] Porzingis, and Noah, I think the fit will be there because Noah sacrifices offense," Van Gundy said, continuing to sing Noah's praises. "He tries to free people for shots with the pass and with screens."

It's refreshing to see such an educated and insightful basketball mind focus on the positives with regard to Noah, who is a versatile player with the potential to help the Knicks on both ends of the court. New York had a desperate need for someone to serve as their defensive anchor. Robin Lopez was a solid player, but even he isn't as intense and/or vocal on the court as someone like Tyson Chandler was, the last time the Knicks made the playoffs. Noah can step up in a similar way and his presence will undoubtedly be felt.

Because he's such a physical presence on defense, his contributions on the offensive end are underrated. Noah is a very skilled passer. He's an unselfish player with good vision, which will create opportunities for his other talented teammates.

In the midst of a summer where the climate of the NBA economy changed drastically, no one would have thought twice about the contract Noah received if this were following the 2014-15 season instead. Through the first eight seasons of his career, the big man played less than 64 games just once. Obviously appearing in 82 games is the goal, but players aren't as durable as they used to be. Furthermore, the expectation to play every game is no longer there with rest days and modern strategies to keep star players fresh towards the postseason.

For reference purposes, from 2007-2015, Noah appeared in an average of 67.9 games per season. Anthony, the team's resident star, appeared in a lesser average of 66 games per season during the same span. Because Noah is a defensive minded player who asserts himself rather physically down low, one could argue that his body takes even more of a hit over the course of a given campaign than Anthony's. Even so, that's still somewhat difficult to judge.

The main thing to remember here is that not as many people shown concern over Anthony's health. That same concern wasn't as prevalent with Noah before this past season. That's because with the changing NBA landscape, playing 65+ games is acceptable.

As Van Gundy alluded to, the Knicks paid an expensive price for someone coming off a 29 game season. They did not, however, overpay for someone with Noah's credentials over the course of a career. A number of big men signed surprising contracts this summer.

Where else was that money going to go? The Knicks could've made a more serious run at Dwyane Wade, taking money from Noah's contract (as well as Courtney Lee). But, even if they did, New York would've still been thin when attempting to sign a competent center. This team needed a defensive anchor much more than another scorer.

Phil Jackson and his staff made it work. They have good balance on paper. The Knicks could have saved money and waited until next offseason. Thankfully, they want to win sooner than later. And, if healthy enough - if he can play in roughly 60-65 games - Noah will help them do that.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Mark D. Smith)
(Mark D. Smith)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Every season, NBA fans quickly become infatuated with their team's respective bench warmers. This comes from the enjoyment of rooting for an underdog and seeing someone whose story resonates with even the more casual fans succeed.

There's a certain intrigue around the 15th or even 16th man (a player who just narrowly misses out on making the roster) because there's still plenty of potential to uncover.

Knicks fans especially have truly had a special interest in players who serve as the cherry on top of the roster. Unfamiliarity with said players is exciting, because it creates an opportunity to learn more about them. In a market like this, such passion could be double-sided.

Everyone remembers the "We want Herb!" chants for Herb Williams at the end of games during the '90s. Nevertheless, the hatred surrounding Chris Smith's spot on the team, and the confusion around the over-utilization of wings like James White and Sasha Vujacic in recent years, has been very real.

As the Knicks enter another training camp, such passion could once again be channeled in a more positive direction this time around. Though his contract is guaranteed, Maurice Ndour will still need to fight for his spot on the team with plenty of intriguing prospects around. 24 years old, the forward first came onto New York's radar following a very positive Summer League showing in 2015.

Ndour undoubtedly needs to develop a greater level of consistency in his game. When he gets going, however, there's plenty to like.

He can put the ball on the floor quite impressively for a big man. He reads the defense well and knows when to attack the basket or fade away for a jump shot. He's not the most polished player, but the instincts are there. This means once his skills get even further along, he'll understand how to use his talents to his advantage.

This all may take some time, which is why Ndour could ultimately be edged out for another youngster in the weeks to come.

Still, after the Knicks failed to offer him the necessary money for a deal last summer, he signed with the Mavericks. An injury derailed his hopes of making the opening night roster. Subsequently playing in Spain wasn't exactly what he thought it would be. The playing time wasn't there, and Ndour wasn't able to shine.

The season may have gotten away from him, but there's little denying that he is the one that got away from New York last offseason. This campaign is a chance at redemption for both parties.

This is an opportunity to see his development through the right way. Can he ultimately help the Knicks? Will he show more flashes of that 2015 Summer League greatness? That remains to be seen.

But after a securing a guaranteed contract, Ndour could be more motivated to to play out the year in the D-League (with the Westchester Knicks), should New York still pass on him for the opening night roster. Either way, he'll be an easy guy to root for.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

As training camp approaches and the ensuring preseason games commence, all eyes from critics will be on a narrative that depicts an overbearing and obsessive Phil Jackson peering over the shoulder of new coach Jeff Hornacek to make sure he's running The Triangle, something he's already implemented in his own philosophy.

We got the chance to speak to Coach Nick Hauselman of, who did an amazing breakdown of Hornacek's offense in Phoenix two years ago on The Mid Range Theory Podcast. We talked about the trend in the NBA of the dribble-drive-attack style in spread form and how Hornacek and Portland's Terry Stotts, one of the game's underrated basketball minds, may just be creating the perfect offensive system for today's game (listen at 30:25). 

"There is a flow there and there is a lot of triangle-ish stuff already built in and that's the key. It's the same with Coach Stotts in Portland where there's a flow and options to keep moving," Hauselman said. "The thing I'm interested more about with Hornacek is that he dealt with a team (in Phoenix) in the end it became very difficult to manage. He had to treat them like a hight school team."

Hornacek, who blew Jackson away at their first meeting as Jackson inched towards hiring Steve Mills' former teammate David Blatt, comes to New York with a plan in place that fits the system and roster Jackson put together this summer. Jackson's obsession over The Triangle is an idea driven by critics as he has repeatedly referred to a preferred "system of basketball" that Hornacek shared. Hornacek seemingly has the perfect offensive system for today's game.

Their connection is what solidified the job for the ex-Jazz great, who enters his first year in New York following a roller coaster two and a half years in Phoenix. His tenure there was full of some overachieving highs and underachieving lows that ended with a locker room so disconnected that a change had to be made during the season last year.

From a pure basketball standpoint, the Knicks won't run much "traditional" triangle. Considering it's a fixture of most-all solid NBA offenses, which supplants Jackson and more directly Tex Winter's place in NBA history as it is, there will be some characteristics. There will be early entry passes to the high pinch post from guards with an emphasis on cutting, space and movement off the ball. You'll see the occasional quick-hitter.

There will be end of shot clock isolations for Carmelo Anthony and there will be mid range actions to isolate Kristaps Porzingis mid clock so he can expose mismatches. But the reality is that the "Modern Triangle" Hornacek brings is a combination of today's pick-and-roll game with Derrick Rose triggering the offense from the top of the key in a 1-4 spread early in the clock with the safety of Anthony and Porzingis post isolations on the back end of the shot clock if early action is foiled. It will be dribble-drive based at times, especially in transition, with kick-out potential to Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas, Anthony, Porzingis and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, something that was literally non-existent last season.

But this will not be the slow, plotting offense that has plagued the Knicks, especially in transition, during the Jackson era. There's a trust factor that's already building as the team currently works out together and it all begins with their new head coach. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Lance Thomas

All eyes will be on Derrick Rose when the Knicks open camp Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
All eyes will be on Derrick Rose when the Knicks open camp Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Derrick Rose is optimistic about the Knicks' chances this season. In an interview with the NBPA's Jared Zwerling, the guard called his new employer "the most talented team I've played on."

The season hasn't even begun yet, so surely that's a rather bold statement. Still, on paper, things look promising. Rose is a former NBA MVP, and he comes to the Big Apple once again teaming up with a former Bulls teammate in two-time All-Star Joakim Noah. Add in an already established star in Carmelo Anthony, a budding one in Kristaps Porzingis, a "3 and D" guy in Courtney Lee, some scoring pop off the bench in Brandon Jennings and a solid glue guy in Lance Thomas (among others), and this is a very talented group at first glance.

Things obviously have to come together, and that takes time. New York has to account for chemistry, be prepared to overcome potential injuries and hope that everyone buys into new coach Jeff Hornacek's vision. Though Rose's Bulls stood atop of the Eastern Conference twice over the course of his tenure, they reached the Conference Finals just once in eight seasons. There are many factors that play into potential success, and sometimes they don't all work out for the best.

Rose said he worked with trainer Rob McClanaghan to adjust to the triangle system, and in their workouts together, worked on drills off the pinch post and pin-down screens. McClanaghan, according to Zwerling, envisions the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Rose as more of a ball handler to get more touches in the post.

There's no doubt Rose and others were acquired to help provide Anthony with the ample support he's needed for years. Rose still firmly believes playing with the Knicks' resident star will make him better as well.

"I think [Anthony]'s going to make the game way easy for the entire team," he said. "And that leaves everybody open on the other side, the weak side. You add shooters to that, you add just other threats on the floor, and you're going to be a dangerous team. And my job is to just come in and just be a point guard.

"So my job is to come in and get everybody going, then have my spot where I can try to dominate the game."

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Lance Thomas , Keith Schlosser

Stanford Cardinal guard Chasson Randle (5) dribbles the ball up the court during the second half of the game against the South Dakota Coyotes at Maples Pavilion. (Ed Szczepanski)
Stanford Cardinal guard Chasson Randle (5) dribbles the ball up the court during the second half of the game against the South Dakota Coyotes at Maples Pavilion. (Ed Szczepanski)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

The signing of Lou Amundson brings the Knicks' roster to fifteen guaranteed contracts, giving the team a complete group of players. With that in mind, youngsters like Chasson Randle, Ron Baker, and JP Tokoto all stand even less of a chance at making the squad out of training camp. Their partially-guaranteed contracts are paid out as motivation for each one to stick around in the D-League for a lesser salary than they could net by going overseas. The exposure and experience they receive in NBA camp, coupled with the unofficial signing bonus, serves as an incentive to head to the minor league soon after.

Topping off the roster with Amundson, rather than leaving the spot open for one of the prospects to earn instead, indicates that New York is content with the roster as is. But that still doesn't mean it's absolutely impossible for a youngster to swoop in and impress team brass beyond belief. Should someone like Randle, Baker, and/or Tokoto make so much noise and a glowingly positive impression in camp and pre-season, it'll be difficult to ignore. As it is, all three players had relatively respectable showings for the Knicks in Orlando Summer League. They've all shown potential.

They might be on the outside looking in, but there's no doubt they could very well nip at the heels of both Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee. Each big man was signed to a guaranteed league minimum contract of $543, 171. The plan is to have them both on board. Still, should either one struggle enough, biting the bullet on that contract is much more sensible to do than it would be on Amundson, a seasoned veteran with a higher minimum rate. What's more, it'd be much easier to convince Ndour and/or Plumlee to play in the D-League, whereas New York would lose out on Amundson completely. He wasn't signed to potentially be waived following camp. The Knicks can assume the risk of doing so with Ndour/Plumlee. After all, playing in the minor league after receiving a $543, 171 payday wouldn't be a bad gig.

Nevertheless, New York will cross that bridge when/if they get to it. Randle, Baker, and Tokoto all have to play extremely well to garner the type of consideration that would force the Knicks to lose money on another player. Still, it's a good debate to have. Competition is healthy, especially during camp.

New York Knicks forward Lou Amundson (21) in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher)
New York Knicks forward Lou Amundson (21) in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher)

The Knicks have agreed to a contract with F Lou Amundson, the team announced on Monday.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, sources say it is a one-year, fully guaranteed contract, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Amundson has appeared in 70 games over the past two seasons for the Knicks, averaging 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game.

Amundson was originally acquired by the Knicks from Cleveland on Jan. 5, 2015 as part of a three-team trade. 


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

This type of move is to be expected. With fourteen guaranteed contracts, the Knicks obviously had room for one more player to assume a spot on their roster. It makes sense to see a veteran like Amundson be awarded this final guaranteed spot, rather than giving a young prospect an opportunity to make the roster instead.

Camp invitees like Chasson Randle, Ron Baker, and JP Tokoto could all develop just as well in the D-League with more playing time and dedicated attention. What's more, giving one of these three players a shot to make the big league club would have also left the team's minor league ranks a bit thin.

Amundson is a high energy guy with plenty of hustle. More importantly in the case, he's a well respected locker room guy who fits right in and doesn't complain. His return not only adds to the continued elevated team culture, but roster continuity as well.

That said, the team now has a plethora of fringe big men making up the end of its bench. Despite being on guaranteed contracts, it wouldn't hurt so much to bite the bullet and waive one, if someone else comes in and impresses team brass instead.

Tags: Lou Amundson

 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Let's rewind back 12 months ago, when basketball fans and people alike wondered what the Knicks had in a 7'3 rookie named Kristaps Porzingis. We saw the videos and we heard from the experts, but we really couldn't get a handle on Porzingis until he stepped foot onto an NBA floor.

I set very modest expectations heading into last season. I felt if Porzingis could play in 60 or more games while averaging around 15 minutes per game that would be a great introduction and one that would assure his skinny frame would hold up to the rigors of the NBA marathon.

I felt in those minutes he'd score some points and make a few threes and he'd average around 6.5 points per game and a handful of rebounds. The results from Porzingis and the confidence shown in him by the organization blew me away. With more and more responsibilities given to him as the season progressed, he proved to be more than up to the test. It was amazing to watch on a nightly basis and a star was born.

So as we head into his encore campaign, you will hear the standard narrative of a potential "sophomore slump" and other "typical Knicks" things put out by critics. I'm expecting Porzingis to step forward in his rebounding and overall shooting efficiency, as he won't settle for as many shots this year.

With the additions of Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee offensively, Porzingis will still be a focal point and will be urged to exploit mismatches and take shots in single coverage, but he won't have to force shots when double teamed. Porzingis and his young legs were at their collective best at the back end of back-to-back games (think at Atlanta and at Miami in early January) where he had a net rating of 8.8.

Looking at Porzingis' shooting stats, there are some really telling signs of superstardom and amazing things to come. How much better he is this year all depends on where he's getting his shots from and who he is directly playing off of.

Last year, Carmelo Anthony assisted on 60 of Porzingis' 373 made field goals, second only to Jose Calderon's 67. In comparison, Rose assisted on 100 of Pau Gasol's 467 made fields goals last year. Expect Porzingis and Rose to combine in a lot of pick-and-pop situations that should create easier looks for Porzingis, who projects to make well over 400 field goals if healthy with a player of Rose's caliber helping.

In terms of unassisted field goals, or what I like to call the shots that separate good from great offensive players, Porzingis tallied 122 unassisted field goals made. Of his 886 field goal attempts, 278 came in the mid-range. And when you consider that 46 percent of his attempts came between 15-7 seconds on the shot clock that tells you Porzingis had a fair amount of one-on-one isolation opportunities where he was comfortable in his matchup and able to convert the shot.

Judging from his shot chart, he's already a very accomplished catch-and-shoot maker who can also isolate mid-to-late in the shot clock. That's an incredibly valuable asset in a player of Porzingis' size. His high-release point, great footwork, and range make him almost impossible to guard one-on-one.

In total, 36 precent of Porzingis' field goal attempts last year occurred when his defender was "tight" on him within 2-4 feet and he was able to convert 41 percent of the time. With a bit more space, that shooting percentage bumped up to 43.5 percent.

Having a more efficient shooter, Lee, on the perimeter, will help boost Porzingis' assist numbers slightly as well. While the offense last year wasn't predicated on Porzingis to facilitate, he did build some chemistry with Anthony, as he assisted on 26 of Melo's 567 field goals made.

Porzingis can also can be sneaky in the Triangle. He is at his best when isolated or popping off screens in catch-and-shoot situations, which aren't conducive to piling up assists. That said, having Lee, Lance Thomas and Mindaugas Kuzminskas should create skip-pass opportunities should Porzingis draw more double teams if the Knicks decide to put him in more low block post up situations.

Another stat that jumps out a me when analyzing his shooting and scoring efforts last year was Porzingis' overall number of dunks, bank shots and hook shots and how he already has such an amazing arsenal that comfortably stretches past the three-point line.

We know about the put-backs, but he only attempted ten of those all season -- converting six. And his 52 dunks on the year were not within the top 50 in the entire league. That's a direct indication that he needed to get stronger closer to the basket, as he's more of a pick-and-pop player without much pick-and-lob to his game. Expect those numbers to increase as his leg strength does.

He made 22 of 49 hook shots (45 percent) and shot a ridiculous 61 percent when using the glass, making 36. It's not a stretch to say he may be the best bank-shooting big man since Tim Duncan, who tortured the NBA (and the Knicks in the 1999 Finals) during his time in the league.

In the end, and assuming he stays healthy, Porzingis figures to moderately increase his production in his second season, while increasing his overall efficiency significantly. He should pair well with Rose in his comfort zone, which is catch-and-shoot off pick-and-roll as well as continue to exploit matchups mid-range and closer in isolation situations. He'll also extend himself with more consistency to the three-point arc with the help of Rose's elite driving ability.

I expect his PER to be in the 18-20 range and his impact estimate (PIE) to be near 15. If he can reduce the number of settled shots, while taking 15-to-18 quality shots per game, Porzingis can inch his way toward a 20 point, 10 rebound average, making him an All-Star for the first time in just his second year.

However, if he continues to settle and get pushed out to mid-range at a similar frequency to last year, he won't progress to that level, but will still project to take a solid step forward in his sophomore season.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

Future Knicks teammates Willy Hernangomez, left, and Carmelo Anthony, middle, got to know each other during the Olympics when Spain played the U.S.
Future Knicks teammates Willy Hernangomez, left, and Carmelo Anthony, middle, got to know each other during the Olympics when Spain played the U.S.

One of the more exciting things during NBA training camp is when position/rotation battles begin to unfold. An array of new players (especially in the New York Knicks' case) normally calls for opportunities for different players to earn their keeps. It's a chance to see what each respective player is made of.

As New York fills out its second unit, Lance Thomas and Brandon Jennings would appear to be locks for consistent roles and minutes. After shooting 43 percent from deep through 27 games with Chicago last season, fourth-year veteran Justin Holiday should get a legitimate opportunity to earn playing time as well. As for the big men, perhaps returning player Kyle O'Quinn has an inside track. Even so, he shot a career-low in field goal percentage and put up the weakest numbers (including minutes per game) since his rookie year across the board. The Knicks chose not to depend on him too heavily, so there's no guarantee things will change drastically this coming season.

Thus, there may be an opportunity for one of the team's younger bigs to step up in a much needed way. Wily Hernangomez, Marshall Plumlee and Mindaugas Kuzminskas are all on guaranteed contracts. Of course, receiving playing time could come down to varying matchups over the course of a season. They all have different (and respectable) skill sets to offer.

With professional experience abroad and in the Olympics, perhaps Hernangomez has gotten the most legitimate exposure out of the bunch. He's physical inside, isn't afraid to throw his body around to box out for boards and to pester defenders, and can run up and down the court pretty well. An even more rugged big man, Plumlee plays with a very unselfish mentality and has an exceptionally high basketball IQ. Widely regarded as a potential replacement for Derrick Williams, Kuzminskas is a versatile forward who can shoot well from deep. Perhaps Maurice Ndour is the biggest question mark of all, but he has potential on both ends of the floor. Signing him, and seeing this opportunity through, is arguably more about righting last season's wrong of letting him go, more than anything else.

The team's prospective starters and dependable role players higher up the bench have seemingly carved out obvious roles and the necessary minutes that go along with them already. But for the foursome, the opportunity to write their own respective stories is wide open. They'll need to battle one another, grind it out and prove why they deserve the remaining minutes.

It'd make sense to give Hernangomez the edge. Each prospect is rough around the edges for different reasons, but he's the most proven, versatile and arguably polished of the group. Phil Jackson is motivated to prove the value of last summer's second-round draft selection. The front office wants to see Hernangomez succeed to validate their own decision-making process.

Such a battle for playing time across the board will make the early goings of camp very interesting.

Tags: Kyle O'Quinn , Lance Thomas , Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) high fives forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) in the first half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Jennifer Stewart)
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) high fives forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) in the first half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Jennifer Stewart)

On Saturday, Kristaps Porzingis spoke rather optimistically about the Knicks' potential this coming season, Still, he also recognizes the type of toll being part of the team's struggles had on his rookie campaign.

"Last season helped me grow because we lost and that's a lot to take mentally," he lamented (New York Daily News, September 17).

Phil Jackson's number one priority over the course of his Knick tenure has been attempting to instill a winning culture/mentality. Such an effort is obviously still a work in progress. Things need to change from top to bottom. It takes time. What's more, there's no denying that when a player, coach, or entire team gets in a prolonged rut, it's difficult to climb out of. Failure can become an unfortunate familiar concept.

Carmelo Anthony knows that all too well. New York has missed the postseason in each of the last three seasons, amassing just an 86-160 record. While he recently won big and conquered all as a member of Team USA, one has to wonder whether he can carry such a mentality back with him to New York. There's reason to hope, but no guarantee.

Perhaps with all of this in mind, Anthony and Porzingis can learn how to rise above and be resilient together. While the three-time Olympic gold medalist has served as somewhat of a mentor to the Latvian youngster, they'll have to support each other in order for the Knicks to finally cross this bridge. It'll be a learning process for them both.

Anthony has struggled to carry the Knicks back to greatness. But with a new coach, different teammates, and the continued maturation of Porzingis, things should come much easier. Nevertheless, it's a lot easier to drag a team down than it is to be the catalyst that helps build them back up.

For Anthony, the grind to end this losing battle is still just as challenging (and arguably still just as ripe) as it is for Porzingis. Thus, they have an opportunity to realize success and overcome last season's failure together.
Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Keith Schlosser

 (Gary A. Vasquez)
(Gary A. Vasquez)

Kristaps Porzingis, speaking at his basketball camp for children in Westchester, said the goal for the Knicks this season is to get back to the playoffs. 

The Knicks, who have failed to make the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, finished last year at 32-50 and 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. 

But with the additions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Brandon Jennings, the Knicks are looking to improve upon last year's finish. 

"Obviously, the No. 1 goal is the playoffs this year," Porzingis said, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley. "That's where my head is at." 

As for Rose's "super team" comment earlier in the summer, Porzingis said the Knicks still need to prove they can compete on the court. 

"That shows his confidence, one, that he believes in us," Porzingis said. "I don't know what's a super team and what's not a super team but what I think he meant was that we're able to win every game. Not that we're going to win 82 games, zero [losses]. But every team that comes up, we're able to beat them because we have enough talent."

Porzingis also noted how he likes the energy that he believes Noah will bring to New York. Noah is coming off a 2015-16 season in Chicago that saw him limited to just 29 games because of injuries. 

"He's great, I love him," Porzingis said of Noah. "The first conversation we had, I was in the training room, he came in with his shirt off and I was like, 'Oh man you've been working out.' He's a really cool guy and we just started talking about the season and I told him everybody's excited.

"This is a big year for us. And we kept on talking and he just got so intense, like he really feels it, like he was like, "Yeah man this is a big opportunity, we've got to give it our all." That's the type of guy that we want on our team. He brings that good energy."

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

With regard to Joakim Noah, there are questions about his health and whether or not he'll ultimately live up to the generous contract awarded by the Knicks.

One thing not in doubt, however, is his intensity level. New York is in desperate need of someone who carries himself that way. Noah is certainly an assertive rebounder. He plays with physicality and serves as a very intimidating presence down low.

As he sets that certain tone, hopefully this same level of play is infectious, especially to his frontcourt mate Porzingis. It should be noted that Noah is a hometown guy and is going to take pride in making the Garden crowd roar. He grew up watching some of the more defensive-minded teams of the Knicks' recent past, so he's had plenty to learn from.

While he's undoubtedly valued most for his defensive efforts, Noah's passing ability is a very underrated skill. He has great vision for a big man, can find players around the perimeter from underneath the basket and can even put the ball on the floor a bit.

As far as Porzingis is concerned, what's there not to love about his new teammate?

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

During Derek Fisher's coaching tenure, Phil Jackson attempted to give him room to breathe, be independent, and make his own decisions.

Concerned about stepping on his Fisher's toes, Jackson essentially allowed him to make mistakes. What's more, he failed to make an impact in places the Knicks could have benefited.

Jackson is still in the process of changing the team's culture. While only time will tell if his vision for success comes to fruition, New York certainly looks much improved on paper.

But alas, the team didn't hire him for his team-building skills. He has overall basketball expertise, and that includes communicating with players on the court as well.

As shown on Twitter, Brandon Jennings paired up with Jackson.

Arguably the greatest coach in sports history, there's plenty Jennings can learn from the Zen Master. Jackson should assert his presence even more this coming season since the Knicks need all hands on deck.

Training camp hasn't started just yet, but players are actively involved in voluntary workouts. It's nice to see Jackson lend a helping hand this early on.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

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My favorite article of the new NBA season has become Sports Illustrated's Top 100 player ranking. I don't love overall team and conference rankings because they tend to be very subjective, but the basis behind the methodology of SI's Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney does a terrific job of delicately balancing a player's role within a team while being individually in-a-vacuum. 

This year's edition also provided proper context, thankfully, when evaluating Kristaps Porzingis.

Let's face it, there is no bigger vacuum than in New York, and that often shapes the way a player is viewed by many -- including fans and media. It's something I've fought against for years.

In talking with Golliver on our FanSided NBA podcast The Mid Range Theory, it was great to hear that the evaluation of Porzinigis lacked any outside noise that existed from a perceived drop in performance after the All-Star Break.

"Once we actually looked at the numbers we thought that some of the talk of Porzingis'' 'fall off' after the All-Star break was a little bit media driven and not totally accurate," said Golliver, who ranked Porzingis 68th, directly behind Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins.

"Maybe some of his brightest and best moments came earlier, but he had a really, really nice rookie season."

It's clear to see that some in the national media are really taking a fair, hard look at the Knicks' prized big man and they are liking what they are seeing, which hasn't always been the case in past years.

One thing that hurt Porzingis, according to Golliver, was the idea that they weren't sold that adding Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose -- two players surprisingly left off the top 100 -- would help Porzingis' development.

"He (Porzingis) actually would be have been higher if any of the Knicks' offseason moves had really, clearly benefited his game. Outside of maybe Courtney Lee, who is going to give you some spacing and create some opportunity to work where he wants to work we just had questions about the Noah and Rose moves."

Perhaps the biggest question mark heading into the season is just how Rose will fit with Anthony and Porzingis. Rose's defensive struggles last season were one of the big reasons he was left off the Top 100, according to Golliver, and Noah's departure is part of a trend that has included Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert and Tiago Splitter. The questions surrounding Noah were extensive and fair.

"We had to take a bunch of older big guys off the list because of either injury issues or ineffectiveness or the changing nature of their games," Golliver said.

"There is quite a bit of variability when it comes to big guys. …It really could not have gone worse for (Noah) last year in terms of the injury issues and the relationship with Fred Hoiberg. We had concerns of what he is an offensive player. He's not having that sort of defensive impact like he did when he was an MVP candidate. Is he going to be able to hold up? How much are they going to ask of him?"

In the end, I believe Noah and Rose to be Top 100 NBA players and I think the rankings of Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis are completely fair. The questions surrounding Rose and Noah are valid and will need to be answered by the ex-Bulls over the next few weeks.

Perhaps the biggest reason I love the Top 100, aside from it being well-reasoned and extremely well thought out, is that it signifies we're less than three weeks away from the start of camp, where all these questions will be answered.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

Derrick Rose (Nelson Chenault/USA Today Sports Images)
Derrick Rose (Nelson Chenault/USA Today Sports Images)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Many Knicks followers like to say the 1990s stand tall as the team's modern-day prime. Though New York has gone without an NBA championship in over 40 years, the '90s featured two Finals appearances. As the more recent squads have aimed to recapture the golden age of yesteryear, their past (successful) identity is undeniable. 

Such teams were consistently paced by gritty players who exuded determination, physicality, a dedication to defense and an unselfishness on offense. Players of all positions were prevalent, but there's no doubt that the Knicks' floor generals helped set a certain tone.

Greg Anthony. Derek Harper. Charlie Ward. Chris Childs. Mark Jackson. None of these aforementioned players were all too flashy, nor were they very gifted athletically. That said, each one found their niche by carrying themselves with hustle on both ends of the floor. They put their teammates first at all times.

As he enters his first season in New York, Derrick Rose could learn a thing or two from his predecessors. 

Rose has certainly been blessed with greater God-given gifts and respective physical talents. Things will come easier for him if he's healthy. Of course, for a player like him, staying healthy is not only a difficult thing to do, but it's the name of the game. Above all else, Rose's main goal this coming season should be remaining on the court for as many games as possible. If he does, all else will fall into place.

With that in mind, Rose won't necessarily be expected to be as explosive as he once was at the very top of his game. There's no doubt Carmelo Anthony needs support on the offensive end, but Rose won't be depended on to carry this team. There's not as much pressure to score the basketball, either. 

Instead, if Rose can penetrate to the basket, all the while keeping his eyes open for teammates around the perimeter, his ability will benefit the Knicks immediately. Serving as a threat and putting pressure on the defense will, in essence, create more opportunities for those around him. Being unselfish, serving as a potential decoy, and cutting through the lane are all things that will make Rose a valuable player.

Rose is known for his dynamic scoring. However, should he post an assist number close to his career-average of 6.2 per contest, it would represent New York's highest assist leader since Chris Duhon (7.2) back in 2008-09. That alone is telling as to how much this team is in desperate need of someone with vision and an ability to keep opposing defenses on their toes. The versatility to be able to score, but also comprehend when it's time to get teammates involved, is so crucial. 

Sharing the ball with those around him will not only make Rose's teammates better, but himself as well. Being unselfish on offense is one way to find success. On the flip side, Rose needs to hustle his butt off on defense. There needs to be an elevated effort and an awareness never to take plays off. His intensity on this end of the floor has wavered at times, which can make him a liability. As other successful point guards in New York have proven, doing all of the little things can make more of a difference at times than making a big splash.

These are all things Rose needs to keep in mind as he aims to be successful. Attack the basket, use your teammates, be open minded, and dedicated on the defensive end. These things may be second nature for some players, but for Rose, it's a matter of keeping the pressure meter as low as possible. He'll make more of an impact this way than attempting to be a dominant scorer. 

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

Knicks F Carmelo Anthony is ranked No. 24 on's Top 100 NBA Players list.

F/C Kristaps Porzingis ranked No. 68 on the list.

Writes SI's Ben Golliver about Anthony:

"Anthony remains a dependable scorer in isolation, in the post and when using screens. Last season, he seemed to deemphasize his long-established alpha scoring mentality in favor of a more distribution-minded approach. As a result, he averaged four assists for the first time in his career, and his 21/7/4 stat line was matched in all three categories by only three players: James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook."

Anthony, 32, averaged 21.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in 72 games last season.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

As Anthony gets older, it makes sense that many of the NBA's up and coming star talents surpass him in terms of potential, if not also overall skill and stamina. Perhaps even more crucial at this point is the fact that such athletes also have a greater/longer window of opportunity to win big. Anthony's clock is ticking and the pressure is mounting. These can't be easy things to cope with.

Anthony's ability to remain healthy over the course of an entire season has wavered in recent years. That said, if he can continue to keep his head above water at the 70+ games plateau, he and the Knicks can probably afford to stay afloat.

His career-high 4.2 assists from last season is an extremely positive development, as is the career-fewest shot attempts to reach 21.8 points per contest. He's becoming a more unselfish player overall while learning how to use and capitalize on the players -- and their respective talents -- around him. This is not only key to his ability to continue playing at a high level, but also the success of the Knicks as he grows older.

Luckily for Anthony, he'll enter this coming season with the most talented group on paper he's had in a while. What's more, as the evolution of Kristaps Porzingis continues, he'll have less pressure to carry the team and serve as the main attraction.

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Based on what many perceive as Melo's "best" season metrically, No. 24 seems fair heading into the 2016-17 season.

When he's at his best, which we saw this summer in Rio, Anthony is still one of the world's best and most dominant players. If the Knicks have a strong season this year and Melo continues to assist Porzingis' development, I would expect Melo to vault near the top 10, where he was a fixture for years.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

Derrick Rose shoots prior to the game against Grizzlies. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Rose shoots prior to the game against Grizzlies. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The woman who brought a lawsuit accusing NBA star Derrick Rose and two others of gang rape is leading two drastically different lives. 

She is the central figure identified only as "Jane Doe" in a made-for-tabloid case replete with unsavory details about the sexual relationship she had with one of pro basketball's biggest names and the night she says he and his two friends sexually assaulted her when she was passed out.

And she is a 30-year-old college student whose family knows nothing about her involvement with Rose or the lawsuit, which seeks $21.5 million. Keeping her Mexican immigrant parents, siblings and many nieces and nephews in the dark is critically important to her and gets harder as the Oct. 4 trial date looms and more attention is focused on the case.

Video: Will the Knicks receive the best of Derrick Rose?

"They have a sense something's wrong, but there's no way I can express to them or explain to them how I feel or what I'm going through," the woman told The Associated Press in her first media interview. "Having to think of alternative ways to communicate that pain is very stressful and it takes a lot out of you."

While she seeks to maintain her anonymity so she can continue a life out of the spotlight, Rose's attorneys want her name made public, believing it will help expose her as a fraud.

So far a judge has agreed her identity can be kept secret but a hearing Monday could change that >> Read the full version of this story at SNY.TV.

 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

Jeff Hornacek's daughter, Abby, opened up about her dad while speaking with Marc Berman of the NY Post.

"He's the most dedicated person I've ever met, most motivated," Abby Hornaceck said of her dad, who is entering his first year as Knicks head coach.

"After a game, he comes home and watches the game two times," she continued. "He really puts everything he has into it. That's what makes him really great."

Abby, who is a 22-year-old journalism major at USC, added that since he's a former player, her dad "understands what the players are going through." >> Read more in the NY Post

 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Knicks F Carmelo Anthony has dropped his support for the controversial Crown Heights armory deal, according to the NY Daily News.

Anthony's foundation had been set to contribute money for the sports facility that was part of the project, which also includes housing.

Activists are against the deal, which they say will speed up the gentrification of Crown Heights.

Bertha Lewis, the founder of the Black Institute, which opposes the deal, said Anthony is their "hero" and that the project should be "scrapped," with the admininstration starting over.

Anthony, 32, is a native of Red Hook. Brooklyn.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) laugh on the court during second half time out against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) laugh on the court during second half time out against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

There was a great read on Hoopshype on Tuesday that took a look into Derrick Rose and what to expect from the Knicks this upcoming season. Depending on how content finds you and who is producing it the Knicks are either a dumpster fire (they are the Knicks after all they figure) or they are a team that can threaten to win 50 games.

The reality is that, barring catastrophic injuries, they will be somewhere in between and they will make the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. But the question that was posed in the Hoopshype piece is: Is that the best case scenario?

"Ironically, being as good as Knicks fans hope may be a bad sign for the future. Say the Knicks win 47 games this year and Rose plays decently. Best-case scenario they re-sign him on a fair deal north of $10 million per year and maybe add one lower-level starter next summer and that's the team going forward while Anthony continues to age and the team slowly teeters out. In a few years, Porzingis is through his rookie contract and the Knicks haven't necessarily added young talent around him.

ESPN's RPM projections angered Knicks fans, but ending up with a mid-to-high lottery pick could be a blessing in disguise. The 2017 draft is expected to be loaded with point guard talent, and with a bit of luck Porzingis could end up with a pick-and-roll partner for the next decade."

Look, predictions are a necessary evil. We know this. Even the most surly of beat writers, can't wait to hear the basketballs bouncing in the gym of the team's practice facility in Tarrytown, a stone's throw away from the Hudson. What's best for this organization is to build around Carmelo Anthony AND Kristaps Porzingis moving forward and Phil Jackson has done that. Jackson said it to the press when introducing the new players on the team a few months back. They need to build a winning culture around the Porzinigis so he can experience and feel the positive energy around him so he can grow. That's the team's ultimate goal.  

That may sound like Jackson's patented hyperbole seeing that winning should be the goal for every team. But this Knicks team isn't on the cusp of a championship as its constructed today, so the question has been asked if it makes sense to position themselves for a better pick in what appears to be a loaded upcoming draft.

To me the answer is no.

In my mind what has been lost (purposefully?) by prognosticators is the number of games won by both Rose and Joakim Noah and the culture that they both are used to. Those Bulls teams, of which they were a major part of, were terrific. They competed every single night on both ends of the floor and came to work the next day looking to get better. Those teams were led by the two players who now don Knicks jerseys and who are bringing that culture and attitude with them and into the Knicks locker room. They will surround Porzinigis every day with messages of professionalism and the nuances of the game that he may not yet be familiar with. It's why Rose believes they will have a chance to win every night, which other people confuse as his belief they can go 82-0.

This season is about continuing to build a winning culture with modest expectations and I can't wait for it to get started.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

J.P. Tokoto looks to pass the ball during an NBA Summer League game. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports Images)
J.P. Tokoto looks to pass the ball during an NBA Summer League game. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports Images)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

New York Knicks training camp starts in less than two weeks. After a very eventful summer offseason with plenty of moves, it's finally time for things to get underway. Only time will tell if New York will be able to capitalize on new talent.

The team currently has 14 guaranteed contracts, with young guns like Chasson Randle, Ron Baker and JP Tokoto all set to compete for the 15th and final roster spot. Despite not having any draft picks this past June, New York certainly made an effort to stockpile young talent on the end of its bench. Intriguing players such as Marshall Plumlee, Willy Hernangomez, Maurice Ndour and Mindaugas Kuzminskas all have guarantees in the coming campaign.

With the season steadily approaching, it's been a bit surprising to not see the Knicks add another veteran or two in hopes of lighting the fire under everyone else. There are plenty of older players looking to revamp their careers or come out of retirement. They're hungry for opportunities and could very well go on to provide the team's prospects with helpful guidance. There's value in bringing such a player in, especially with all this youth and relative inexperience at the end of the bench. Perhaps that's why Sasha Vujacic was retained, but New York could use others as well.

Having just three players (Randle, Baker and Tokoto) on partial guarantees is a low number as well. Usually, a team stacks up on training camp invitees in the hope that whoever doesn't make the big league team can be jettisoned to the D-League to help bolster an affiliate like Westchester. This creates a stream of development, which is something New York has aimed to maintain before. 

This is why it would make even more sense for the Knicks to add a veteran (or simply, additional players, generally speaking) before camp begins. While Randle may have an inside track on the final spot following a strong Summer League, that's not certain. 

In the interest of maintaining some roster flexibility, New York could opt to leave the final spot open following camp. That would seem especially sensible if the aforementioned trio is all the team has to send to Westchester following camp. (Tokoto's D-League rights would need to be acquired by the OKC Blue.)

The Knicks genuinely have a lot of questions about their roster. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Still, going deeper down the bench, Justin Holiday is still relatively unproven. Vujacic has proven to be undependable in the past. From there on out, New York has four first-year players on guaranteed contracts, and three more on partial guarantees. 

It'll be interesting to see how things shake out. Taking all of this into consideration, there could very well be more moves ahead in the coming weeks. There's the possibility of another veteran coming to town. Additional young talent is also needed for the D-League team. Either way, the Knicks could be busy.

Tags: Sasha Vujacic , Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) moves the ball during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. (Anthony Gruppuso)
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) moves the ball during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Sports Illustrated has released the first part of their list of Top 100 NBA players of 2017, and Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis landed at 68.

Both PG Derrick Rose and C Joakim Noah were not ranked in the Top 100.

The top 50 players on the list will be revealed throughout the week, with F Carmelo Anthony sure to find himself somewhere near the top of the rankings.

The rankings were determined based on a combination of subjective assessment and objective data, including: per-game and per-minute statistics, splits, advanced metrics, play-type data and more.

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

The Rose justification was what you'd expect, overly hyper-metric and speculative. There's nothing definitive stopping Rose from being one of the game's explosive, athleticly- dominant players from everything I've been told. His knee has received full clearance from the Hospital of Special Surgery in Manhattan, and Jeff Hornacek's offense will give him ample chances to succeed. Yes, that is speculation too, but two can play at that game. It's hard not to call Rose one of the game's top 100 players.

As far as Porzingis at 68, it would appear that Karl Towns is being placed in the top 50, which is aggressive. Towns and Porzingis are close in terms of overall impact and both have through-the-roof upside. Overall it's a fair ranking for the Knicks sophomore who looks to pair with Rose and Carmelo Anthony to form one of the game's best trios.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

The Knicks have always been considered underdogs when it comes to national rankings of any kind, and this year is no different.

Of course, they'll have Carmelo Anthony in the upper tier of players as this list continues to unfold. After all the improvements they made this summer, it's surprising to see none of their big time acquisitions make the cut.

A former MVP, Rose rebounded from his more injury-saddled campaigns of the recent past last season. Should he continue to build on that, he could very well catapult himself back onto the list next year. As far as this coming season goes, he has to a lot to prove. It seemed as though younger players, who are on the cusp of breakout seasons, were favored more.

Perhaps leaving Noah off the list is reasonable, considering the injury-plagued year he had. He, however, is a former top-five finisher in MVP voting, and could really garner some consideration (once again) as one of the top defensive players in the league if healthy. That, understandably so, is a big if. The big contract he signed, coupled with his health, are two giant elephants in the room. He and the Knicks will need to overcome them both.

All that in mind, it adds insult to injury that Robin Lopez sits pretty at no. 82.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

Carmelo Anthony guards Chris Paul during the NBA All-Star Game. (Bob Donnan (USA Today))
Carmelo Anthony guards Chris Paul during the NBA All-Star Game. (Bob Donnan (USA Today))

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Since it is unquestionably the biggest elephant in the room, and likely the team's biggest distraction this year, let's get address it in September. The Knicks can clear enough money to sign Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers' guard who is destined for the Hall of Fame that is set to become a free agent at the end of this season.

I know what you're thinking and I'm with you, but Ian Begley of ESPN got the ball rolling already so it needs to be addressed:

"The Knicks can also clear the point guard position altogether by renouncing both Jennings and Rose, which would leave them with approximately $24 million in cap space. In this instance, it would take only a minor move for the Knicks to put themselves in position to offer a max contract to a veteran with as many as six seasons of experience -- a deal that's projected to start at around $25.5 million in 2017.

New York also currently owns its 2017 first-round draft pick, which will likely impact its cap space in 2017 free agency. Assuming the Knicks keep the pick, it will count against the cap. The 2017-18 first overall pick's rookie-scale deal will start at roughly $5 million."

Like teammate Blake Griffin and other top-flight point guards that include Rose and Toronto's Kyle Lowry, Paul has the option to become a free agent this summer. Paul, a perennial All-NBA selection and close friend of Carmelo Anthony is always among the game's leaders in PER thanks to his ability to control the game on both sides of the ball. Like Anthony, Paul has struggled to get his team to the NBA Finals and this year probably won't be any different for the Clippers with Kevin Durant signing in Golden State.

While it's worth noting next summer's free agency class, it's important to remain focused on the 2016-17 season. Ideally, Rose and Anthony will mesh; giving the Knicks the decision to have a little negotiating power against Paul should he opt out. Best case scenario for Knicks fans would be an amazing comeback year for Rose and Paul to opt out of his contract to provide options moving forward.

If Kristaps Porzingis can make even greater strides this year it would make playing with Anthony that much more attractive for Paul, one of the game's all-time best pick-and-roll specialists.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

In an interview with SLAM, Derrick Rose discussed the continued adjustments he's making early on as a Knick acquisition.

"We know that we need each other and know that we can't anywhere without one another. It's all about us just coming together quick, jelling quick so that things can be smooth, Rose said of starting the season off on the right foot. "But in the beginning it may not be like that. It may be rough, but I think with the guys that we have and the talent that we have on the team, we'll figure it out."

For Rose, there's a lot of pressure to embrace and/or overcome. Of course, he's now part of the Knicks' potential solution to once and for all break free of their continued struggles and evident failures. On a more personal note, he himself has plenty to prove after multiple injury-plagued campaigns. It's not only a matter of if he can remain healthy, but even more so if Rose can return to a high enough level and compete.

If things go south, the Knicks aren't exactly on the hook with Rose's contract set to expire. Still, they did trade away Robin Lopez's very competitive contract and gave up on intriguing youngster Jerian Grant to acquire him. Thus, they're motivated to see Rose play well to justify the trade. As far as he's concerned, his respective level of play this coming season could very well dictate the direction of the rest of his career.

In a perfect world, Rose plays well, the Knicks make the playoffs, and the team tries to subsequently re-sign him to a longer contract next summer. Should that all fall into place, however, the former MVP would also presumably have more suitors after his services. Should he fail to come through, New York may opt to go separate ways, and who knows where he goes after that.

As such, there's the possibility that, one way or another, this could be a very short stop in his career. Clearly understanding that, Rose also said he's approaching the upcoming season as a "business trip." Interesting choice of words, but it does make sense.

It's great to hear him gush about Phil Jackson, however. Rose is obviously not a homegrown kid like Carmelo Anthony, but the fact that he's from Chicago and has a certain level of fandom for Jackson is endearing. 

"I can't believe I even got his number, bro. I'm from Chicago so his resume speaks for itself with Chicago people and we just know his history with the Lakers," Rose said. "If anything, me being the part of what he's creating, I think it should be something special."

Playing in the Big Apple is not only about finding success on the court, but capitalizing on everything else the city has to offer. That includes going to concerts, enjoying the culture and the outdoors, etc. As he alludes to, Rose is already enjoying that aspect of things. 

Rose isn't the kind of guy who expresses his feelings too openly in the public. Playing in New York, however, he'll be expected and pushed to shed some light on things a bit more. This interview gives fans an early taste of what he's about.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Former teammates such as Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone, but Carmelo Anthony (7) still knows how to bring a group together. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Former teammates such as Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone, but Carmelo Anthony (7) still knows how to bring a group together. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

"A Few good Men" A couple people missing. You get the point though. #AVeryMeloWeekend2016 #StayMe7o

A photo posted by @carmeloanthony on

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Each and every September, Carmelo Anthony returns to Puerto Rico for his extremely charitable weekend. The annual event, fittingly entitled "A Very Melo Weekend," is all about the Knicks star giving back to the local community's youth and using basketball to do so.

At the same time, it serves as a tremendous opportunity for Anthony and his Knicks teammates, both new and old, to bond and train together shortly before the season starts. Anthony is a considerate host. With each passing summer, it seems as though the number of teammates who join him increases again and again.

As the picture from Anthony's Instagram account maintains, this summer's gathering stays true to that positive trend. Throughout his time donning orange and blue, there have been so many questions about Anthony's ability (and even his desire) to truly rise up and be the leader the Knicks need. Getting his teammates together (and so many of them, at that) in a setting like this for a few days is a very good sign. 

Of course, it's a increased opportunity for everyone to start working together and getting to know each other on the court. But with such a new group, it's equally as important to build that chemistry off the hardwood as well. Credit Anthony for spearheading this opportunity to build those trusting relationships and even reaching out to those of whom he has yet to share the court with. This can only lead to good things.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) listens to forward Kyle O'Quinn (9) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. (Tom Szczerbowski)
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) listens to forward Kyle O'Quinn (9) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. (Tom Szczerbowski)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

As Carmelo Anthony hosts his annual "A Very Melo Weekend" in Puerto Rico, many of his teammates have posted social media updates suggesting they've joined him. The list seems to include Kyle O'Quinn, Lance Thomas, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee, but in past years, additional players have arrived midway through the weekend as well.

Kristaps Porzingis stayed back in New York City, and with so many of teammates heading out, perhaps he had to find a new workout partner. He definitely found an interesting one.

NBA star Russell Westbrook is in town for New York Fashion Week, and has worked out with Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and former Knick Iman Shumpert. If nothing else, this is a great opportunity for Porzingis and the team's incoming rookies to compete against, work out with and maybe even pick the brain of one of the league's most talented players.

As Westbrook continued his ascension up the NBA ladder as a top-tier talent, he was, for a long while, still playing second fiddle to Kevin Durant with the Thunder. Such an overshadowing led to plenty of speculation that the star guard would look to be a main attraction in a big market like New York. The Knicks' acquisition of Derrick Rose (and his massive expiring contract) added even more fuel to the fire that the team might make a run at Westbrook, with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2017. 

Great day of work! KP got us lookin small out here jo! Working during #nyfw #whynot I still love NYC

A photo posted by Iman Shumpert (@imanshumpert) on

Of course, such a suggestion was deflated a bit in the weeks that followed. Durant jetted off to Golden State and Westbrook signed a very lucrative extension of his own. According to ESPN, however, the new contract still includes a player option in 2018. Should the Knicks spend modestly (and sensibly) next summer, perhaps they'll still be able to target Westbrook the following year, should he choose to opt out and become a free agent. 

That's obviously a long time coming. The Knicks are focused on capitalizing on the acquisitions they did make this summer. Still, Porzingis and Co. could very well still be in town when the time comes to go after Westbrook. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Kyle O'Quinn

Veteran Sasha Vujacic initiated team workouts this offseason in an effort to improve team chemistry. (Jennifer Stewart (USA Today))
Veteran Sasha Vujacic initiated team workouts this offseason in an effort to improve team chemistry. (Jennifer Stewart (USA Today))

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

After playing in just two NBA games from 2011-2015, Sasha Vujacic's career in The Association was resurrected by his former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Now serving as Knicks Team President, Jackson signed Vujacic at the beginning of last season.

Despite only signing a minimum contract, Vujacic's acquisition was met with surprise and confusion, much more than it was intrigue. Fans and media members criticized such a move right off the bat, and as the season continued to progress, it didn't get much better than that. 

A nine year NBA veteran, Vujacic shot below his career-average shooting percentages across the board. Still, he continued to receive ample playing time from former teammate Derek Fisher and coach Kurt Rambis. As the coaching staff continued to look his way in favor of a seemingly more productive Arron Afflalo, more confusion ensued. Despite his average play, Vujacic started a career-high 25 games.

As the Knicks head into the 2016-17 campaign, Vujacic will return on yet another veteran's minimum's contract, and some are still wondering why. But for what it's worth, the guard is widely regarded as one of the best teammates any player will ever have. Jackson wants to develop a positive team culture, and Vujacic is highly favored as someone who contributes to such an environment.

"I'm going to give Sasha the biggest compliment I can give any of my players. He's the nicest guy you'll ever meet off the court," Gameshape Inc. trainer Robbie Davis told and  "He's a family guy who spends time with his parents, brother, and sister. They play board games. Everybody loves the guy. He's the unofficial mayor out here in Manhattan Beach."

But make no mistake: Vujacic is a competitor. 

"On the court, he's the complete opposite. He's the most annoying player that you'll ever play with. He's ultra-competitive. He's competitive to a fault, because he doesn't know how to turn it off," Davis said. "He's going to argue every call and be in your face all the time. He's like a little gnat."

Davis, the longtime trainer of over twelve years, has worked with Vujacic for well over the last seven seasons. He added that Vujacic carries himself with a certain level of cockiness that stems from being a Laker and a multi-time NBA champion. Perhaps he's earned it. 

Still, he serves as the consummate professional and teammate.

"[People] love him off the court. Everyone wants to go to lunches and dinners and hang out with him. But he can just flip the switch," the trainer said. "It's a huge compliment, because you want guys to hate you on the court, but love you off of it. He's very unique."

Vujacic is one of Kristaps Porzingis' best friends on the team and has initiated numerous offseason training sessions with some of the newer acquisitions this summer. He's dedicated to helping the Knicks improve, including in the chemistry department. 

What's more, Davis added, "Sasha is a relentless workout guy. He'll kill himself, but he's in the best shape. I think guys were impressed and wanted to see what he was doing."

One can only hope that he elevates his level of play on the court this season, but it's easier to understand the value Vujacic has with this in mind. 

Tags: Sasha Vujacic , Keith Schlosser

Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will look to bring the chemistry they developed in Chicago over to New York with their new teammates.  (Geoff Burke (USA Today))
Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will look to bring the chemistry they developed in Chicago over to New York with their new teammates. (Geoff Burke (USA Today))

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

With training camp less than a month away, many of the Knicks have begun to arrive in New York for voluntary workouts. But when many of the team's new additions finally get going in the Big Apple, it won't by any means be the first exposure they've had with one another.

Alas, incoming players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings made continued efforts to train together in Los Angeles this summer. and has learned that one of the largest group sessions to date was initiated by veteran Sasha Vujacic.

"The guys came in [two weeks ago]. Sasha's been one of my clients for many years, back when he was a Laker. He actually set the whole thing up," Gameshape Inc.'s Robbie Davis said. "A lot of the guys spent a lot of time in Los Angeles this summer, so they we were working out together."

But the work hasn't simply stopped there.

"Sasha went up and worked out with Derrick Rose's skills guy for a couple days. On Friday, they worked out with me. That following Saturday, Sasha and I went out to Malibu to work with Joakim and one of his guys," Davis said of the group's training. "We all got together, worked out, and hung out. It's a nice way for them to get to know each other and bond."

As pictures from Davis' Instagram account show, his session featured some unique activities. 

"I tried to get the guys outside of the gym to do something a little different. I love the pool work because it's low impact and kind of gets them off their legs to finish a week out," he shared.

Vujacic has been working with Davis for quite some time. Davis, the former Clippers trainer who has been contracting his services out for the last twelve years, said that it was unusual for a large group to come in for a workout. That's a testament, not only to the dedicated work ethic of each player, but the motivation Vujacic has to get guys together.

"I was very impressed. I don't see it very often. A lot of guys will come in to work with me and bring one teammate along. It's very rate for so many teammates to come together like this," the trainer pointed out. "They had coaches with them too. Corey Gaines was there. I don't think I've ever had so many guys come through. We had a great time, working out, laughing, and having lunch. They even left me and did more basketball work after."

Hard work and putting in the extra time tends to pay off more often than not. As far as Davis is concerned, Vujacic and Co. are already reaping the benefits.

"Their chemistry is off the charts," he asserted. "It was really nice to see, and it'll be interesting to see if it carries over [into the season]."

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Jeff Swinger)
(Jeff Swinger)

Carmelo Anthony has been nominated for the Team USA Male Athlete of the Olympic Games.

Anthony captained the U.S. Men's basketball team to a perfect 8-0 record and the gold medal in Rio. In doing this, Anthony became the only male basketball player in Olympic history to win three gold medals.

Anthony also became the all-time leading scorer in U.S. Men's Basketball Olympic history.

The other nominees include Michael Phelps (swimming), Matt Centrowitz (track and field), Connor Fields (BMX), and Kyle Snyder (wrestling).

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

t's pretty remarkable that in spite of Kevin Durant's more attention grabbing performances, Anthony is getting recognized here for his Olympic achievement and leadership. It's well deserved. 

Just to be nominated amongst these fellow accomplished athletes should not only provide Anthony with satisfaction, but also the Knicks' fan base as well. With Michael Phelps stealing the show for all male US Olympics in Rio, perhaps Anthony isn't likely to win. Still, the Knicks employ a winner.

To be in this very conversation is special enough. So much has been made of the fact that Anthony is yet to win big on the NBA stage. He's watched as his friends have sped past him, leaving him in the rearview mirror as they come away with championships. But in addition to his three gold medals, Anthony won a college title with Syracuse. His own accomplishments compare.

The Knicks obviously have a long way to go. Anthony hasn't been able to carry New York back to greatness on his own, but he's been getting more of the pieces necessary to help propel his team in the right direction. As Kristaps Porzingis comes into his prime, the sky will be the limit. Perhaps much like with Team USA, Anthony can begin to play a supporting role (while also being the voice of veteran reason) as he gets older. 

His achievements thus far are impressive. Time will tell if things truly come to fruition, but winning big this summer should help Anthony's mentality going into the NBA season, especially with the players he has around him now. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

 (John Geliebter)
(John Geliebter)

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Would you sign up for 65-to-70 games at 30 minutes per game for Joakim Noah this year?

Judging from the percentages, that's likely to be an average year for Noah when talking about both games played and minutes per game. That also includes at least one round in the playoffs.

Look, I know what you're thinking. It's the Knicks and fans can't have anything nice, so the skepticism has to lead you down the path that says what's likely to go wrong probably will.

The thought from many is that Noah, who the Knicks signed to a four-year contract worth $72 million as part of what was a very active summer for them, will again have issues with injuries and his absence will cause the Knicks to suffer and miss the playoffs for the fourth straight time. Without Noah, the Knicks will be forced to play Kyle O'Quinn and Willie Hernangomez more than they should and also put extra stress on the development of Kristaps Porzingis.

Let's pump the breaks on all of that for a second and start with the history surrounding the Knicks' new starting center. Where is this "Noah is injury prone" idea coming from? Other than the separated shoulder that shut him down early last year, Noah hasn't been severely banged up in his career.

The reality is Noah has proven repeatedly that he knows how to get his body ready for playoff action. I guess it could be that it's been so long since the Knicks have been contenders that fans forget how long the playoffs are. And when looking at players who have played on playoff teams, they get distracted by Noah's regular season games played.

In his career, Noah has played in 572 of his possible 738 games (78 percent ) over his nine-year career, which would mean his average games for this year theoretically would be 64. More importantly, though, Noah has played in 60 playoff games and has maintained his health and paced himself to the end of the season with the exception of last year.

Two years ago, he played in 79 total games, including 12 highly competitive playoff games. And in 2013-14, Noah played 85 total games for the 48-34 Bulls, who lost to the Washington Wizards in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

He has missed action for two major reasons over the course of his nine years in the NBA. First was over knee issues revolving around tendinitis, which can be categorized as general wear-and-tear, especially considering Noah's frenetic style of play. Resting him some nights wouldn't be the worst idea.

The separated shoulder he suffered last year seems to be healed, but will have to take the impact of NBA games before he can be pronounced "healthy," hence the skepticism.

But if you're looking at the largest possible sample (65 + games and the playoffs) at between 30-32 minutes per game, that should suffice on this roster. What I see is a player who has paced himself for the NBA playoffs to ensure that he was at his best possible strength as the Bulls ramped up their playoff pushes.

And while it's important that Noah be on the floor for the Knicks to make the playoffs, the amount of experience he has in preparing his body for the second season speaks volumes when you look at his production and level of play.

For the Knicks to make the playoffs and attempt to contend in the Eastern Conference, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Porzingis and Noah all need to play in the neighborhood of 70 regular season games together. It's that simple. Judging by what Noah has proven throughout his career, an average season from him, including last year, will have him in the lineup most nights.

At 31 years old, if the Knicks are pushing for the 8th seed, you have to think there will be nights he'll play where he may have sat in Chicago -- since they were already playoff bound and his max health was most important to the team.

I understand why people are concerned about Noah's fragility. I'm just not buying that he's prone to injury.

New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward Jeff Green during the second quarter at FedExForum. (Justin Ford/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward Jeff Green during the second quarter at FedExForum. (Justin Ford/USA Today Sports Images)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Acquired two years ago as part of the J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert trade, Lance Thomas was a mere afterthought. A journeyman tossed around between the NBA, D-League and overseas, Thomas had yet to establish himself in the NBA, and one would be hard-pressed to say things looked promising for him at all.

After waiving him, only to re-sign him to two 10-day contracts (and subsequently the rest of the season), it could have been argued that Thomas was simply held onto because New York needed to fill out the roster. One and a half seasons later, overall team success hasn't followed, but Thomas undoubtedly stands out as someone who has added to the positive team culture the Knicks have been desperately attempting to develop.

Thomas seemingly took a pay cut before cashing in on a big contract this summer, and he undoubtedly earned every penny of it. Much like his team, Thomas had a lot to prove last season. His play was nothing short of impressive in a key role off the bench for New York. Averaging 8.2 points, he did so while confidently shooting 44 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 86 percent from the free throw line.

What makes such an effort so unique is the fact that Thomas initially made a name for himself by serving as a glue guy. Watching those around him score the basketball, Thomas made an impact by rebounding the ball, never giving up on defense and inspiring teammates with his hustle on the court and positive attitude in the locker room. 

His role has, nevertheless, evolved over time. Because he had never been looked to as much of a scorer, Thomas' long-range shooting was never much to write home about. But over the course of last season, he showed a vast improvement and even started to stand tall as quite the threat from deep. He picked his spots effectively and knew where to go on the court, making it especially easy for teammates to find him. 

It'll be interesting to see if Thomas takes an all the more elevated role on offense this coming season. Could a double-digit scoring average be in his future? 

Of course, the Knicks will look to continue benefitting from his veteran know-how and hunger on both ends of the floor. As the Knicks have restructured themselves, it's clear they'll have to depend on him even more. Alongside Brandon Jennings, Thomas, himself, will be looked upon to help pace the second unit. 

It may be a different role than what he has become accustomed to, but as the Knicks have continued to look his way, Thomas has proven again and again that he can be trusted. This time around should be no different.

Tags: Lance Thomas , Keith Schlosser

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With Labor Day weekend officially in the rearview mirror and football tailgates well underway, it's time to begin to focus our attention to the hardwood as Knicks training camp is about a month away. What better way to kick off your back to work week than a Knicks Q and A as the team gets ready to come together and set goals for the upcoming 2016-17 season?

I leave legal reporting to the experts and there's no better legal expert in sports right now than Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann, who wrote this very detailed article on the case last week. I encourage all Knicks fans to read it. A quick synopsis is that first and foremost this is a civil litigation and not a criminal prosecution, meaning if Rose is found guilty the penalty will be monetary, not jail time. The dispute, as McCann notes, will be directly over sexual consent. The Knicks and the NBA will be paying close attention to the details to see if Rose, guilty or not guilty, should be suspended from the Knicks, for conduct detrimental to the team, or the league, for breaking Article 35 of the NBA constitution for "conduct that does not conform to standards of morality or fair play, that does not comply at all times with all federal, state, and local laws, or that is prejudicial or detrimental to the NBA."

It remains to be seen if this will be a distraction or if the case is settled before trial begins.

Assuming he's able to, Rose has the most to prove by a wide margin. The biggest concern for me is Carmelo Anthony disconnecting from Rose if he's allowed to lead the offense. Meaning, if Rose is told to push the pace in transition and takes shots while Melo is trailing then I can see Melo being bothered by not getting touches as the ball goes the other way leaving him in limbo. In other words, shot selection will be the biggest key for Rose, who has had those issues with that in the past. I think Joakim Noah will come in and be patient early in the season as he paces himself for the long run, but in big games, say on the national stage, he will elevate his energy especially at home. 

Because Kristaps Porzingis has his back, I can see Willy Hernangomez getting a very long look early in camp, but I'd anticipate that Jeff Hornacek will take his time with the rookie big man. Astute coaches are always very cognizant of rookie walls, especially those from Europe who don't play at the same pace. Hernangomez is just coming off the Olympics so his game may be in great shape to get minutes. The battle between him and incumbent Kyle O'Quinn will be one of the early story lines of camp for sure.

Good timing here based on the last question. Obviously, Ndour will be on the outside looking in and will be insurance depending on who gets injured. I do think he'll get the opportunity to bring energy in the preseason and it will be his job to make the most of that opportunity but realistically it's hard to envision who he can leap over for minutes. He's a "tweener" in every sense of the word and it's hard to find consistent minutes for players of that caliber. 

This will be a notion that many writers, especially nationally, will be focused on as the season rolls along and I can see it annoying me to no end. The impact of using Porzingis at the 5 in a "small ball lineup" along with Anthony at the 4 and, say, Lance Thomas at the three could prove to be terrific offensively. That said, depending on the matchup, it can have a terrible impact on KP's legs defensively if he has to guard the post. That wear and tear is far more important than the number of open three point looks he gets.

I've seen countless writers and bloggers blindly state that Porzingis needs to just play the 5 and it's mindless. Porzingis needs to play the 5 when the matchup on the defensive end fits him as much as it does on the offensive end. The last thing you need is Porzingis sitting days or weeks at a time with lower body injuries like thigh, groin, hamstring or foot issues associated with trying to defend the post at the NBA level.  

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Beyond Brandon Jennings and Lance Thomas, the Knicks' bench appears somewhat unproven, if not also underwhelming. Such a void, especially one in the second unit's front court, is something Willy Hernangomez has the potential to fill.

Hernangomez has professional experience playing alongside Kristaps Porzingis in Spain, and just won the Bronze medal in at the Olympics in Rio. Not one to shy away from challenges, he's ready to take on the NBA.

The Knicks were criticized for not having any draft picks this summer, but still managed to rebound by acquiring an influx of young talent. In addition to undrafted talent from 2015 and 2016, respectively (Maurice Ndour, Chasson Randle, Marshall Plumlee, and Ron Baker), Hernangomez may very well represent the equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of Phil Jackson's prospect hat.

One could argue that, had he been in this past summer's draft, he would have garnered first round consideration. The young gun is a good asset for New York to have, especially in the coming season.

The Knicks want to compete right away, but will also aim to sustain a certain younger core to build upon for the future. Hernangomez is the kind of player who can help the Knicks check off both boxes.

The big man's relatively lean frame can be somewhat deceiving. He's a very physical player who has a good motor and boxes out down low with plenty of assertiveness. His instincts may need further development, but he has the body and eagerness to be successful.

Whereas the Knicks will surely need his intensity on the defensive end, he could very well help on offense, too. Hernangomez has a decent mid-range jumper, but perhaps even more importantly, has the agility to get down the court and capitalize on fast break points.

Unlike the aforementioned rookies, who could end up with minimal and/or D-League roles, it'd be nice to see if Hernangomez can prove himself to be a dependable player.

The Knicks need high energy, hustle, and physicality in the front court, especially when players like Porzingis and Joakim Noah get rest. If the starters set the bar high, New York obviously wants to rely upon players who can help uphold that level of effort as best as possible.

The Olympic medalist seems to have that kind of potential, and can hopefully exhibit it sooner than later.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis , Lance Thomas , Keith Schlosser

Justin Holiday (Matt Bush/USA Today Sports Images)
Justin Holiday (Matt Bush/USA Today Sports Images)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

In an interview with the New York Post, Justin Holiday revealed that he has begun participating in voluntary workouts at the Knicks' training facility.

With training camp officially less than a month away, the timing here makes sense. These voluntary workouts have become a common practice for New York in recent years, but there's all the more pressure this time around. There are high stakes and a need to be successful during Phil Jackson's tenure. Evident progress must be shown. With plenty of new players, any jumpstart on increasing team chemistry is a plus.

As previously reportedDerrick Rose and some of the Knicks' other new additions have been training together on the west coast throughout the offseason. The Post reported Holiday had been working out with four other "young" Knicks. As per Carmelo Anthony's social media accounts, he and Kristaps Porzingis have gotten together to work out in New York City.

One would have to think, based on the description however, that Holiday is working out with others. With most, if not all of the veteran new additions still in Los Angeles, perhaps Holiday is starting to work out with the training camp invitees and/or new international additions.

As for his own potential contributions, one of Holiday's primary goals is clear: make an impact on the defensive end.

The one thing I hate the most playing basketball is getting scored on -- regardless if it's a good shot or not," he said.

An often underrated guard who has taken a while to finally begin establishing his NBA path, it'll be interesting to see if Holiday can make an impact off the Knicks' bench this season.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Dennis Wierzbicki)
(Dennis Wierzbicki)

LOS ANGELES (AP) A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging New York Knicks player Derrick Rose and two friends drugged and gang-raped a woman.

On Wednesday, federal Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald said a jury must decide whether to believe Rose's contention that the woman, a former lover, consented to group sex at her home in 2013.

The case could now go to trial in October, when Knicks training camp gets underway. Messages left for Rose's agent, B.J. Armstrong, were not immediately returned Saturday. According to court records, the woman had been drinking at Rose's Beverly Hills, California, home, and a friend helped her return home, where she vomited and fell asleep.

The woman's $21.5 million sexual battery lawsuit contends that Rose and the other two defendants entered her apartment the next morning and raped her.

The woman believes that an unknown drug was slipped into her drink at Rose's home, and she "did not do any pregnancy tests or a rape kit because she was terribly ashamed and embarrassed," according to her lawsuit.

Rose has denied the allegations, and his lawyer has labeled the lawsuit an extortion attempt. >> Read more

Copyright 2016 by the Associated Press

New York Knicks guard Cleanthony Early (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Knicks guard Cleanthony Early (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports Images)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Despite spending all of the 2014-15 season with the Knicks, Travis Wear recently signed a training camp deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, with the idea that he'll begin the season with their D-League affiliate. Such a concept is one New York should carry out with Cleanthony Early.

After playing sparingly in his first two pro seasons (especially his sophomore campaign), it's safe to say that opportunity has evaded Early more often than not. While the shooting incident derailed his hopes of getting into a rhythm, it's unknown if a consistent role would have been there for Early as the season progressed anyway.

At 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, Early has a lengthy frame. It would have been nice to see him add a bit more muscle at some point. While Derek Fisher was known to appreciate his defense, the Wichita State product's offensive capabilities have always left something to be desired. He's a raw player with a less-than-fluid jump-shot. Early is a decent enough finisher around the basket, but appears to truly lack the confidence to attack and challenge defenders on a consistent basis. This, of course, could be due to that lack of opportunity.

One way or another, Early needs more court time in order to improve. The Knicks, perhaps arguably more than any other team, see his potential. Without a consistent role to provide however, both parties could benefit if Early accepts a camp deal and then heads to Westchester for further refinement. 

In the D-League, Early would undoubtedly be a stud. Should he embrace a notable role, the youngster could hone his skills while developing the confidence necessary to succeed at the big league level. He should be encouraged to be aggressive, shoot the ball, attack the basket and follow up shots for second-chance opportunities. The more such mannerisms are encouraged, the more they'll become second nature. Early needs to improve his instincts, and the rest will follow.

In 10 games as a D-League assignee the past two seasons, Early thrived. He averaged 17.2 points on 45 percent shooting from the field and eight rebounds per contest. And while his numbers may not directly reflect this, he was showing the potential to serve as a point forward. When comfortable, Early has very underrated court vision.

Phil Jackson chose to keep the pick that ultimately became Early instead of picking up Jae Crowder. That's a difficult pill to swallow now, but what's done is done. That said, it doesn't mean New York can't continue to develop Early. The Knicks need to give him a fair opportunity, and if he's willing to take a chance on himself, this seems to be the best option. Playing in the D-League may not entail a glamorous lifestyle, but it's the best chance Early has to prove to the Knicks (and other NBA teams) that there's more than meets the eye. In the meantime, they have the right to explore options as well.

Tags: Cleanthony Early , Keith Schlosser

 (Steve Mitchell)
(Steve Mitchell)

Derrick Rose's sexual assault trial is scheduled to begin in Los Angeles civil court Oct. 4, the same day the Knicks open the preseason in Houston against the Rockets.

The motion to have the case against him dismissed was denied in July, Ian Begley of ESPN reported at the time

Rose has been accused, along with two friends, of raping the female plaintiff and breaking into her Beverly Hills home on Aug. 27, 2013.

The woman -- referred to in court documents as Jane Doe -- also accused Rose and his friends of slipping a drug into her drink prior to the alleged criminal sexual acts.

Rose has denied the allegations.

Tags: Danny Abriano

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference. (AP)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference. (AP)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Phil Jackson's desired win total for the New York Knicks last season was said to be 35, according to a recent submission from Today's Fastbreak.

Waiting to hear Jackson's expectations for last season this summer is a little peculiar. That said, it's worth noting that more urgency is undoubtedly needed as the Knicks head into yet another training camp in Jackson's tenure. 

Coming from a franchise-worst 17 wins the season before, netting 35 wins would have more than doubled the Knicks' victory total. Often times when a team is able to do that, they should garner praise.

But alas, that wouldn't have been enough for New York. The fact is the 17-win campaign should never have happened in the first place. As such, any subsequent success after that should not be using that season's failure as any type of benchmark or jumping off point. 

Drafting Kristaps Porzingis and bringing in players like Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez, the Knicks surely looked better than a 32-win team on paper. The 35-win expectation shouldn't have been enough, either. The roster was improved, but the decision to retain Derek Fisher heading into the season clearly held the team back.

This coming season should be different. Not only did Jackson make changes to the roster, but he did so while making quite an overall splash this offseason. This team not only looks "better," but it should be easier to declare that this type of improvement should, one way or another, lead to a playoff birth. In the Eastern Conference, that should mean hovering around a .500 record at the bare minimum. 

Such a splash has obviously included a coaching change this time around as well. Thus, there should be optimism in the air. Expectations are well known at this point, regardless of whether or not Jackson wants to declare them publicly this time around. It's playoffs or bust, and it shouldn't make a difference where the Knicks were last season, because they shouldn't have been struggling so mightily at the beginning. There needs to be a change in culture that ultimately leads to more victories and overall success. Anything less is unacceptable.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis , Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) listens to forward Kyle O'Quinn (9) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. (Tom Szczerbowski)
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) listens to forward Kyle O'Quinn (9) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. (Tom Szczerbowski)

Despite knowing full well that changes had to be made following two failed seasons, Phil Jackson also understands the importance of team continuity. If nothing else, the tail end of last season was used to evaluate both the good and the bad. In doing so, Jackson and Co. not only came to understand who to let go of, but also who to keep.

Of course, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are the team's headlining attractions. Lance Thomas was rewarded for his hard work and loyalty with a more lucrative long term contract. A positive locker room presence and respected veteran, Sasha Vujacic will also be returning to New York this coming season.

Under the radar, however, as a returning player is Kyle O'Quinn. With three years remaining on the contract he signed last summer, perhaps some have taken for granted that the Queens native is coming back. O'Quinn's playing time was sporadic last season. As such, consistency in his efforts was hard to find, despite some promise. The Knicks could have opted to deal him for a small draft asset and/or simply moved him as a salary dump in favor of another free agent signee. 

But they didn't. After reading Basketball Insiders' latest profile on the 26-year-old, perhaps it's easier to understand why not.

A junkyard dog on the court and a jokester off of it, O'Quinn is highly regarded by just about any teammate he's ever had. Someone who makes people smile and laugh in a light-hearted locker room but still knows to bring the energy when a game begins, is valuable to have. After watching the Knicks endure the past two seasons, it's obvious they deserve comedic relief every once and a while. O'Quinn undoubtedly brings that to the table. 

His contract is very reasonable following this summer's explosion of the NBA market. What's more, he's still young enough to dig deeper and see what else is there. He's obviously a gritty defender and rebounder, and occasionally displayed a decent midrange jumper, if New York can incorporate into the offense a bit more.

In addition to his former Magic teammates, Cleanthony Early also sang O'Quinn's praises in the aforementioned feature. Currently without a contract and certainly not guaranteed a roster spot, perhaps Early himself is more likely to begin the season in Westchester. Also discussed in the piece is Kevin Seraphin and his strong love of social media, which should be an indication (albeit it, a small one) as to why there's value in bringing a guy like O'Quinn back instead. 

His return is a sign of team continuity, because he could have been easily dealt otherwise. O'Quinn is a high character guy whose demeanor is something others (including Anthony, for that matter) benefit from. 

Tags: Kyle O'Quinn , Keith Schlosser

All eyes will be on Derrick Rose when the Knicks open camp Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
All eyes will be on Derrick Rose when the Knicks open camp Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

It's been fun to really break down Derrick Rose the player since the Knicks acquired the former NBA MVP in June just prior to free agency. It's clear that he has fans marking their respective calendars in great anticipation for Oct. 25 in Cleveland.

The numbers don't support Rose as a "willing passer," a term that has taken meaning in the NBA replacing "ball hog," but when you dig a little deeper the highlights suggest that Rose is willing to find the open man. Plugging him in the "modern triangle" that the Knicks will be implementing under Jeff Hornacek could create more passing opportunities.

Since his 2011 MVP season, Rose has only averaged over seven assists per game once, and that was in just 39 games before his devastating knee injury in 2012. Since then he's been much more reliant on scoring and in the 121 games following his major surgery Rose has never averaged more than 5.9 assists per 36 minutes according to

I'm not sure I'm buying the idea that Rose is a ball hog as much as he's not willing to pass to players who aren't great shooters. Why pass to below average three point shooters when you can explode to the basket to try to make a play? I think that's been the same thinking Carmelo Anthony has had over the past few seasons in New York. To be fair, that's a superstar's mentality. Of all the people I've talked to in and around the NBA regarding Rose, there seems to be one common theme surrounding him: stubbornness.  

"It's far less about his physical abilities. From what I've seen he's pretty close to being the guy with the explosiveness of 2011," one NBA scout recently told me. "He's just not any good off the ball and when he gets it he feels like he has to attack. When defenses adjust he stubbornly sticks with it. He has to move it."

Moving the ball is much easier when you have confidence players will make open shots. Rose has had little issue passing the ball to the likes of Mike Dunleavy over the years. This is exactly where the Knicks season lies in the balance and why Rose's future is still very much uncertain. When you look at the Knicks roster it's filled with players who are adept at being effective without the ball, Anthony aside. Courtney Lee, Kristaps Porzingis, Lance Thomas and Joakim Noah all can be effective, efficient and productive without the basketball and they are very capable with it.

How Rose manages touches for Anthony will be critical as to how quickly he gets up to speed with the offensive philosophy, which will be predicated on pushing the ball in transition for early scoring attempts followed by secondary half court sets.

This bodes well for Porzingis in particular, who you'd expect to play a ton of pick-and-roll with Rose in those secondary situations and if Pau Gasol's effectiveness is any indicator then Porzinigis should get a ton of open looks. In 2015-16 Rose assisted on 100 of Gasol's 319 assisted made Field Goals and the vast majority of those were mid-range jump shots and layups according to NBA Stats. 

It obviously wasn't all sunshine and rainbows in The Windy City last year. Perhaps the biggest factor behind the Bulls missing the playoffs last year was injuries and not just to Noah. Losing Dunleavy severely impacted the team's spot shooting and it's a role that the Knicks hope Lee, Thomas and Mindaugas Kuzminskas can fill in a similar manner to Dunleavy. Having players to kick out to should allow Rose to make better decisions off of drives, something he continues to do at an elite NBA level and an element the Knicks have severely lacked since Phil Jackson took over the team in 2014.  

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

Brandon Jennings (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)
Brandon Jennings (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Brandon Jennings hasn't even stepped onto the NBA hardwood as a Knick yet, but he's already on his way to becoming a fan favorite.

Upon joining New York, Jennings quickly took to social media to declare how excited he was to play in the world's most famous arena. Now, he already has a championship in his sights and seems to understand how special it would be to win one in the heart of New York City.

If that weren't enough, he's most recently been participating in a discussions amongst fans about which player had the better career: Reggie Miller or Robert Horry. Knicks fans have a certain disdain for Miller for obvious reasons, and Jennings' motivation to favor Horry's career stems from the fact that the forward won seven NBA champions. Miller came away with none.

Jennings is going to serve as quite the offensive spark plug off the bench, and as such, fans are going to love him and take very quickly to his style of play. Someone who can score in bunches, Jennings is going to embrace all of the pressure-filled crunch time moments. A 39 percent shooter from the field and 35 percent shooter from deep over the course of his career, consistency is certainly something he's lacked over the years. Still, he's also proven to be a clutch player when his team needs him most. That should bode well coming off the bench, or even filling in, if and when Derrick Rose's health become a cause for concern this coming season.

Jennings himself has plenty to prove. After an injury-riddled campaign of his own last season, he will assume a reserve role in New York, more or less for the first time in his career. After signing an one-year contract, he's will almost certainly be out looking for redemption. 

If the Knicks can bottle up that certain clutch gene from Jennings and channel it in a more positive direction, they'll reap the benefits. He's a hot-and-cold player, but when he gets going, there's very little that can slow him (or his respective team) down. Much of what Jennings brings to the table, especially figuring as he steps into the sixth man role, is similar to what J.R. Smith provided the Knicks. At this point, that would certainly appear to also include his mannerisms on social media as well. 

So far, this is all good news. As much of a wild card as Smith was, the Knicks have since lacked many of the positive things he provided since his departure. There aren't too many players who can assume this role in such a way, but if Jennings can give his new team and its fan base a similar taste, he'll catapult his way into becoming a fan favorite mightily fast. 

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Future Knicks teammates Willy Hernangomez, left, and Carmelo Anthony, middle, got to know each other during the Olympics when Spain played the U.S.
Future Knicks teammates Willy Hernangomez, left, and Carmelo Anthony, middle, got to know each other during the Olympics when Spain played the U.S.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Though the New York Knicks look to be much improved on paper following a solid offseason, it's worth recognizing that chemistry takes time to develop. With so many new and/or moving pieces coming together, the team will need to put the work in to get to know one another, both on and off the court, to be successful.

Carmelo Anthony, Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas are all fresh off the Olympics. They all deserve time to recuperate before even thinking about early team meetings and workouts. But a good chunk of the rest of the squad has gotten a head start on building some of that necessary familiarity and camaraderie with one another.

Obviously Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are close from their time together with the Bulls. That said, in recent weeks the pair has also embraced some of New York's other fellow new additions. Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings, have previously frequented workouts, and just last week, Sasha Vujacic joined in as well. Such proof can be found on Los Angeles based trainer Robbie Davis' Instagram account, where it looks like the group participated in pool exercises.

As mentioned, it's good to see Rose and co. not only simply working out and staying in shape, but doing so together. What's more, Vujacic's underperformance last season led to his re-signing being quite a questionable move. Aside from his triangle knowledge however, the guard is highly regarded as a positive locker room presence. He's a good friend to Kristaps Porzingis, and constantly seems to be involved in plenty of these unofficial team workouts. That's worth something. To his credit, it appears as though he and Davis have a long standing relationship back to their days together with the Clippers.

All in all, this early development is a good one for the Knicks as training camp approaches.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis , Sasha Vujacic

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Say what you want about Phil Jackson, but when the time comes around to tell it like it is you can count on him to be transparent.

In the latest edition of the Jackson Chronicles written by his friend Charlie Rosen on Today's Fast Break, Jackson talks about a tough decision he had to face when trading former center Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014.

"One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics," Jackson said.

"In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn't get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder."

Wow, there's a lot to this quote. First, you have to respect the accountability as Phil would love a mulligan. And if you've watched Crowder develop in Boston under Brad Stevens, you understand why.

Secondly, there's a reference to a question that I've had and that revolves around the future of Cleanthony Early, who Phil refers to as "valuable." That would mean he could be candidate for a roster spot.

As far as Crowder goes, he's a glue guy who would have helped the Knicks. Would his presence have made them better? Hard to say. Would they have been good enough to miss out on Kristaps Porzingis? You wouldn't be wrong if you looked at it that way.

I was a huge proponent of trading Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks in 2014 and I thought the 34th pick was a valuable one at the time. If you're looking at a player who they missed out on drafting, the Nuggets took Nikola Jokic of Serbia 41st overall and Jokic is on the verge of superstardom.

In terms of the rest of the article, Jackson talks about the team from the mid-point of the season on and how they had to rely on youth to try to sustain some modest early-season success. This should give Knicks fans hope as they've added veteran players who have the proven ability to log heavy NBA minutes despite health concerns surrounding Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

On the topic of health, one veteran NBA scout recently told me that when your front office is faced with a decision of talent versus health questions, you take talent every time and worry about health if and when there are issues.

"You can't base a decision on health," the scout said. "Obviously every decision is different but when you're dealing with players like Rose and Noah, you worry about health later. Hopefully, you have the depth to get through it until they get back."

Last year, the Knicks didn't have the depth or the players to log the front-end minutes to hold up over 82 games. Jackson, as well as Knicks fans, hope they've built a roster that can stand up an entire season this time around.

Having Crowder on that roster sure would help.

 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

One massive change for the Knicks that has been overshadowed quite a bit this summer is the hiring of Jeff Hornacek.

The 2013-14 runner-up for the NBA's Coach of the Year award is a tremendous upgrade from Derek Fisher, and even Kurt Rambis.

The team has also reshaped their roster.

However, plenty of people, both in the media and the Knicks' fan base, believe the team did not do enough to significantly improve and/or make the playoffs this coming season.

The concern and criticism often starts with Carmelo Anthony. Much like in years past, it's unlikely that the same Melo that just helped Team USA win a gold medal will step foot on the NBA hardwood this fall.

What's more, there are questions surrounding the health of Derrick Rose, as well as the health of Joakim Noah and the thought process behind the lucrative contract he received.

First things first, it's important to remember that the dollar amount and respective duration of Noah's contract will have no bearing on how the Knicks perform this coming season. Whether he lives up to that value over a longer period of time will be debatable, but shouldn't be taken into consideration for performance in year one.

It's hard to argue that after all the moves the Knicks made this offseason they don't look considerably better on paper. That's step one. Surely, staying on the court may be a concern for a couple of key pieces, but there are other components in play here.

Hornacek isn't likely to get lost and/or confused late in contests during the crunch time and/or high pressured moments. Though Fisher himself lived through those moments as a player (much like Hornacek did), he didn't have the experience guiding others through the same ordeal.

Not only has Hornacek done it well in the past, he's learned and looked on from the sidelines as some of the greats did it as well. Fisher didn't even have the luxury of being an assistant beforehand, and clearly, the confusion and frustration he wore on his face night after night proved his distress.

Hornacek had mentors to learn from both as a player and a coach. What's more, his time in Phoenix not only allowed him to gain experience in experimenting with different lineups, but managing different personalities and egos. 

His words resonate with younger and older athletes alike. He knows how to get the most out of underrated talent, and isn't afraid to take risks. A good coach knows how to make adjustments, despite crushing injuries. He proved all of this and more with the Suns.

Talking about improvements, a seasoned head coach is a huge asset for any team. The Knicks' roster is much improved, but even already existing pieces like Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis should benefit and be better from Hornacek's guidance.

Is Hornacek the second coming of Phil Jackson? Not likely. But his qualifications supersede that of Derek Fisher's in almost every sense of coaching. That in itself should be recognized when talking about New York's potential.

We likely haven't even seen the best of Hornacek as a coach yet, and the Knicks have given him quite a roster to lead.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Truth be told, I've warmed up to basketball metrics over the years. I still hold them in the same manner I did when they first busted out on the scene and that is that they were conversation statistics that assisted in making an overall judgement.

I still value actual production stats i.e. minutes played, field goals made, turnovers etc, in very high regard, which brings us to the discussion happening in NBA circles and on NBA Twitter surrounding Derrick Rose.

The narrative surrounding Rose is that he's not the player he was before injuries -- that is unless you speak to his trainer Rob McClanaghan and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook.

"I worked out Derrick and Russell (Westbrook) together," McClanaghan told reporters last summer. "It's amazing how competitive those guys are in workouts. Unlike many guys in this league, those guys together push each other. It was like getting back to pre-draft '08. Like Russell said (of Rose), everything is back to where it used to be. Derrick's timing is back and mentally he's in a very good place."

After an injury set him back early in the year, Rose had moments where he looked as physically dominant as ever and at only 27 years old, he's poised for a very productive year following his 66 game, 2,000 minutes played effort from 2015-16.

Critics will point to his advanced stats and his overall point guard rankings as signs that he'll never be the player he was and that the Knicks made a big mistake in acquiring him for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon this past June.

Last year, Rose ranked 44th in Player Efficiency Rating among point guards, which is misleading on several fronts. First off, he's not a point guard, he's a scoring guard who triggers the offense with his penetration. PER rewards players who shoot, and make, a lot of three point field goals like Stephen Curry -- whose 31.56 PER led all point guards.

Secondly, PER doesn't do a great job of accounting for minutes played. Being more efficient in less minutes isn't all that impressive. It's hard to take anyone seriously if they try to tell you T.J. McConnell's 14.52 PER in 19.8 minutes per game makes him a better basketball player than Derrick Rose.

Heck, Knicks favorite Toney Douglas is 26th overall in PER among point guards and I'm pretty sure he's not a point guard, either. Either way, Rose ranked 22nd in PER among point guards who actually played more than 30 minutes per game.

Which brings us to one of the more talked about advanced metrics these days, VORP, or Value Over Replacement Player, a statistic made popular in baseball comparing a player to a fictitious, minimal-cost player. Basketball Reference defines VORP as "a box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season."

In layman's terms, it's the metric theoretically comparing a player who hasn't actually produced at the same level based on what they've already proven to produce. You can take any player off the bench and give them Rose's minutes and they'll be as effective as Rose.

If you're into comparing real, living players to imaginary ones, by all means knock yourself out. But the line has to be stopped at production in my mind. Rose was the lead guard on the Bulls' best five-man unit last season in terms of both winning percentage and plus/minus.

The effectiveness and productivity are there regardless of what you want to prove about inefficiencies. There's an element of common sense lost among the analytic-heavy crowd and it's that coaches and managers will always play players who produce, regardless of "efficiencies." And the highest-paid players will always be paid as such because of their productivity.

Rose may not be the ideal player to lead your team, but this idea that he's not an NBA-caliber player is laughable at best regardless of what the formulas tell you.

Health concerns are legit as is the idea that the Knicks may be plotting a backup plan with Chris Paul should Rose not work out here this year. Distractions are always part of the gig in New York, but in terms of on-court productivity. it is clear that Rose is still a very valuable piece to any basketball team.

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