New York Knicks: J.R. Smith

Melo probable, Bargnani nearing return

December, 30, 2014
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Barring a setback with his achy knee, Carmelo Anthony looks set to play on New Year’s Eve against the Los Angeles Clippers.

And there’s a chance the Knicks also could have Andrea Bargnani back.

Bargnani was upgraded to questionable and is nearing a return. According to Newsday, Bargnani said he plans on being active and potentially making his season debut after practicing with the team in Los Angeles.

Guard J.R. Smith (plantar fascia) and center Samuel Dalembert (ankle) are also listed as questionable by the Knicks. Forward Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) is listed as doubtful while guard Iman Shumpert (shoulder) and forward Cleanthony Early (knee) are out.

Anthony has been battling soreness in his left knee all season and was limited to 19 minutes as he sat out the second half of the Knicks’ loss at Portland on Sunday night.

It remains to be seen how much Anthony can play if active and how Derek Fisher will ease Bargnani back into the mix once the big man is back. But the Knicks sure can use some of the 7-footer’s offensive skills and outside shooting.

Bargnani hasn’t played all season after suffering a hamstring injury and then a calf injury.

J.R. Smith's 'Nightmare Before Christmas'

December, 23, 2014
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- For J.R. Smith, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” isn’t just a movie. The Knicks are living it.

New York (5-25) has lost 15 of its past 16 games entering its Christmas Day matchup with the Washington Wizards (19-7) at Madison Square Garden.

“I mean it's a nightmare,” Smith said in regard to the Knicks' 2014-15 season. “We just gotta wake up from it.”

It's been especially painful for Smith, who has been sidelined the past seven games by a small tear in his plantar fascia. Smith did not practice on Tuesday and his status remains uncertain for Thursday's game against the Wizards.

“I don't know yet, if they let me play,” Smith said. “Just test it out day by day. If there's any pain, just take my time with it.”

Amar’e Stoudemire (recovery day) and Andrea Bargnani (calf) also did not practice. With guard Iman Shumpert (shoulder) out, the Knicks need all the healthy bodies they can get.

Stoudemire plans to practice on Wednesday and hopes to play against Washington after sitting out the past two games to rest. He has averaged 30.3 minutes in 10 games this month and has been one of the few bright spots for the Knicks this season.

“Feeling good like a Hebrew should,” Stoudemire said. “I feel pretty good. ... Tomorrow we have practice, so I’ll get a good run in, and we’ll go from there.

“I’ve been playing so much throughout the stretch. To start the year off we had a game plan to take some back-to-backs off and play limited minutes, but I kind of have taken advantage of not doing that, so we [decided] to take a few games off which gives me a nice little stretch before (Thursday’s) game.”

The Knicks could use Smith on Thursday as well. Smith said he has felt “consistent” pain in his foot and that he needed to wear a boot recently.

“I definitely feel like it's getting better,” Smith said. “It was at a stage where it wasn't getting better, it wasn't getting worse, it was just staying on the same level, so now it's gradually getting better.”

Smith and the Knicks hope they can say the same soon about their nightmarish start.

“We're still not far out of that last [playoff spot], out of the eight teams,” said Smith. “We just gotta turn that switch on, whatever kind of switch it is, we gotta turn it on. Can't keep waiting.

“I mean to be 5-25, we had a lot of expectations coming in here. So to be in the situation we're in, it's a nightmare for me anyway.”

J.R. will not make trip to Chicago

December, 17, 2014
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GREENBURGH, NY –- J.R. Smith will not travel to Chicago for Thursday's game against the Bulls as he continues to rehab his plantar fascia injury.

Smith has missed the past four games. The Knicks play Phoenix at home on Saturday and at Toronto on Sunday. They have a three-day break following that before facing the Wizards on Christmas Day.

“Just trying to get some treatment,” coach Derek Fisher said of Smith. “We’ll see if we can accelerate the healing process as much as we can. Games Saturday and Sunday coming up so hopefully we can get some accelerated healing over the next few days [and] maybe have him back with us.”

Melo: Tyson deserves cheers in MSG return

December, 15, 2014
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Anthony/ChandlerGetty ImagesIn Melo's mind, booing big man Tyson Chandler in his Tuesday MSG return wouldn't make much sense.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Tyson Chandler returns to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, and Carmelo Anthony said the former Knicks center deserves a warm reception.

“I hope they cheer for him,” Anthony said about when the Mavericks visit the Knicks. “He was a guy who came in and won Defensive Player of the Year here. He was a big part to what we were trying to create here and what we did at one point in time."

“I don’t think they need to boo him or anything,” Anthony continued. “The only reason you boo him [is] because he’s on another team. If you want to do that, then you should boo everybody that’s on another team. I don’t think you should boo him because he left the New York Knicks.”

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What might be more interesting is to see how Knicks fans feel after Tuesday night’s game. The last time Chandler played the Knicks, he gave them a harsh reminder of what they traded away, dropping 17 points and a season-high 25 rebounds to go with two blocked shots in a 109-102 win in Dallas.

The 5-21 Knicks sure could use Chandler this season. Without him, the Knicks lack presence inside the paint. Amar'e Stoudemire has probably exceeded expectations this season, but the Knicks desperately need an intimidating big man.

Chandler and Raymond Felton were dealt to Dallas in the offseason in a trade that brought back Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round picks. The deal was largely made by Phil Jackson to unload Felton, but it cost them their best defender and rebounder along with Chandler’s expiring contract.

Jackson also said he was trying to improve team chemistry and “start with some character guys” when explaining the trade. Last season, Chandler made some headlines when he questioned Mike Woodson’s defensive schemes.

By the end of a disappointing 37-45 campaign, Chandler seemed ready for a fresh start elsewhere, as he and some of his teammates took their fair share of heat for last season’s struggles.

“That’s the state of our game, man,” Anthony said when asked about how some people made Chandler to be a scapegoat for the Knicks' disappointing season last year.

“That’s what we have to deal with as players. If something ain’t going right, they find somebody to pin it on. In Tyson’s situation, they [critics] said it was him. That’s the nature of our game. There’s always going to be somebody that they point the finger at. In that situation, it was him during that time.”

“I don’t see anything he did wrong,” Anthony added. “I think he did a great job of coming to play when he was here.”

Chandler looked like he had something to prove to the Knicks when they last met, on Nov. 26.

Anthony sat out that game due to back spasms but watched Chandler create havoc against the Knicks.

“I remember him having a hell of a game,” Anthony said. “I was drugged up that day [due to the back pain]. ... Everything was kind of blurry to me. But I watched it, I saw it, how impactful he was during that game, how excited he was to play against us.”

Of course, the Knicks have more things to worry about than what kind of reception Chandler draws in his Garden return. The Knicks just need to win and pull through in a tight game for once.

Stoudemire hopes Chandler’s presence will add buzz to the game.

“I think [Tuesday] is going to be a great game for us and also for Dallas with Tyson being back in New York,” Stoudemire said.

"Tyson gave us some good years, he truly did, he was a true pro,” Stoudemire added. “His defensive methods were great. I think the crowd will give him a cheer because 'once a Knick, you're always a Knick.' He does play for Dallas, and they might not cheer him for all too long."

The System: The Knicks had some success using some pick-and-roll sets during Sunday’s overtime loss to Toronto. Anthony, though, believes the Knicks are getting better at the triangle.

“I don’t want to keep talking about the system,” Anthony said when asked if learning the triangle is still an issue. “The system is just a foundation of what we are trying to run on the offensive end. It is just a matter of what we do in that system.

“Yesterday we did some things that didn’t involve the actual system, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t,” Anthony added. “I do think we are getting better at learning the actual system and learning the counters to the system. Now we got to start believing in it more and becoming more comfortable day by day.”

Injury report: The Knicks practiced on Monday but had several players sit out. Anthony (recovery), Larkin (illness), J.R. Smith (left plantar fascia), Pablo Prigioni (sore ankle), Iman Shumpert (left shoulder) and Stoudemire (recovery) all did not practice.

Melo: We're beating ourselves

December, 15, 2014
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NEW YORK –- The New York Knicks found themselves in yet another close game with numerous opportunities to take the win.

And yet again, the Knicks squandered those precious opportunities. This time, they missed seven of eight shots in overtime to drop a 95-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The Knicks (5-21) came close to upsetting the top team in the Eastern Conference, but in the end, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks came away with yet another frustrating loss.

“All of these opportunities we’re missing, we’re letting slip out of our hands,” Anthony said. “It’s right there. I really don’t think Toronto did anything special tonight. I think it was more on us and what we didn’t do rather than what they did.”

“It’s been happening, these close games that we’re losing,” Anthony added. “The teams are not beating us. We’re kind of beating ourselves.”

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Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony went scoreless in overtime after he poured in 34 points in regulation.
Anthony is trying his best to remain positive and optimistic. But it’s easy to see how Anthony has to shoulder the load and try to win it for the Knicks at the end of these close losses.

On a night when J.R. Smith (heel) was a late scratch, Anthony scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Three other Knicks –- Tim Hardaway Jr., Jose Calderon and Amar'e Stoudemire –- also scored in double figures. But Hardaway was the only Knick to make a field goal in overtime, and he struggled through a 4-for-15 shooting night.

The Knicks did have success using some pick and roll, but the game came down to a handful of critical possessions, and they couldn’t score on chances to take control of the game.

Anthony tied the game twice near the end of regulation to force overtime, but then missed all three of his shots in the extra session and failed to score in the last five minutes of the game.

The Knicks tied the game at 84-84 with 2:54 left in the fourth on an Anthony 3-pointer.

Later down two, the Knicks’ franchise player missed two 19-footers before tying the game again with a driving layup past Patrick Patterson with 28.7 seconds left in regulation.

The Knicks survived two missed shots by Toronto to go to overtime.

But in overtime, Hardaway was the only Knick to make a basket -- and that came with 5.2 seconds left and the game already out of reach.

“They put a bigger guy on me,” Anthony said. “They denied a lot of the things we was able to run throughout the course of the game, kind of packed the paint. They applied a little bit more pressure than they had and kind of got us playing a little faster.”

It was another blown opportunity for the Knicks to take a close game. This was the 10th time they have lost by five points or less this season.

While the Knicks scored on some pick-and-roll sets, head coach Derek Fisher said the team got away from executing in overtime.

“We have several things that we do to start possessions that still are inside of our offense,” Fisher said. “So we’ve just continued to add things as we’ve gone along, as the guys have gotten more comfortable with our basic stuff.

“The struggle is once you’ve opened that box, it’s hard to get guys back inside of executing some of our basic things,” Fisher continued. “That’s really what cost us in the overtime. Some of our entry type of action worked to get us into the game, but we didn’t get back to our basic stuff in overtime.”

Fisher won't waver despite first major crisis

December, 11, 2014
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Derek Fisher has the first major crisis of his coaching career on his hands.

The Knicks are 4-20. They’ve dropped 10 straight games. Team president Phil Jackson sees too much of a loser's mentality infecting his team. There’s injuries and in-house bickering between some players, who are not feeling the triangle according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

Frustration is boiling. And Fisher, in his first year as a head coach ever, has to keep everybody calm, keep everybody believing in the triangle and keep everything from falling apart.

[+] EnlargeDerek Fisher
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsWith his team off to a 4-20 start, Derek Fisher vows to stay the course with the Knicks.
It would be easy, and human nature, for the rookie coach to let doubt creep in and wonder what he got himself into. But Fisher remains steadfast in his commitment to the goal and big picture.

“You can’t waver on becoming successful,” Fisher told reporters on Wednesday. “You’ll never get there if you waver or give up. That’s what we have to expect as a group.”

“Losing affects everybody,” Fisher added. “But you must take something from it and learn something from it if you want it to change. We have to take our lumps and accept what it is at this moment, but not necessarily accept that it’s going to stay that way.”

The Knicks are trying what they can to snap out of this funk. They’ve held a team meeting and have tried to diffuse any strife when asked about it in interviews.

But the only thing that likely can make things better is just winning.

“It's kind of hard to deal with,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “I’m trying to stay strong, not to let frustration set [in]. To be quite frank, it's not easy at this point. But I don’t know man, we've just got to stay positive.”

Friday night’s game at Boston (7-13) may end up being the Knicks’ best chance for a win in quite some time. After that game, the Knicks’ next six games bring a brutal stretch against Toronto (16-6), Dallas, (17-7) at Chicago (13-8), Phoenix (12-11), at Toronto and against Washington (15-6).

Potentially making matters more difficult on Friday is the physical health of the team. Anthony (sore left knee) and J.R. Smith (heel) did not play on Wednesday at San Antonio and are listed as questionable by the Knicks to play against Boston.

With all that is going on, Fisher has to find a way to keep things together and try to get his team a much-needed win.

“I’ve been in these locker rooms for a long time,” Fisher said when asked if he’s concerned about any discontent in the Knicks’ locker room. “I’ve been on teams where it’s all good, been on teams where it’s not all good at times.

“But the common ground that kind of binds everybody together is just being committed to winning,” Fisher continued. “That kind of evens the playing field for everybody. We’ll all have some issues with things we don’t like. But if you just keep winning on your mind when you’re out there on the floor, it kind of simplifies things.”

Ian Begley contributed to this report

Melo appreciates LeBron's Garden surprise

December, 8, 2014
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LeBron JamesNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images"I knew he was in town, I (just) didn't believe he would come," Carmelo Anthony said of LeBron James, who came to the Garden as a spectator on Sunday.
NEW YORK –- LeBron James came to the Garden, sat courtside right across from the Knicks bench and even got a box of popcorn.

Carmelo Anthony tried to put on a show for his good friend, but in the end, the Knicks dropped their eighth straight game 103-99 to the Portland Trail Blazers in front of King James.

James was in town, with the Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at Barclays.

"I knew he was in town, [but] I didn't believe he would come," Anthony said. "But that just goes to show you what type of guy he is. Regardless of what team he's on, there's a support system there, and I take my hat off to him for coming and supporting me tonight. He had a couple days off, and he came to support. I don't think you can say anything bad about that."

Anthony had 23 points and 10 rebounds in front of his Olympic teammate. The two friends had talked prior to the game, but Anthony said James did not tell him he was planning on coming to watch the game.

"He just showed up," Anthony said.

When asked why he was at the Garden, James gave a long, "uhhhhhhh" before saying, "Sunday. I love Sundays."

It was impossible to miss the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James sitting on celebrity row.

And apparently James wasn't just a casual observer. A source said players could hear James complain about calls made against the Knicks.

"I think it's great," J.R. Smith said of James' attending the game. "I think it's great for the game. He's a student of the game. He watches enough basketball and wants to be as much a part of the league as he can."

Smith did have one thing to nitpick with James' surprise appearance, and that was the dark, black-rimmed glasses he wore to the game.

"I wish he would stop wearing those damn glasses, though," Smith joked.

Anthony was asked whether he planned to see James after the game.

"I'm going to get my body right for the next couple hours," he said. He missed two games due to a back injury at the end of November.

Carmelo: 'Not gonna panic' about start

December, 1, 2014
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony isn't hitting the panic button yet with the New York Knicks.

The Knicks need a win badly against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday after dropping 13 of their past 15 games. But Anthony chooses to remain patient and optimistic.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsThe Knicks have lost 13 of their past 15 games, but Carmelo Anthony says he remains optimistic about turning things around.
"That comes down to us as individuals whether we panic or not," Anthony said. "Me being one of the leaders of this team, I'm not gonna panic, so none of my teammates are gonna panic.

"Every day is a new day. And tomorrow we got another opportunity to try to turn this thing around."

The Knicks and Nets meet for the second time this season, with both teams struggling at the moment. They are each trying to adjust to a new coach and system. While the Knicks' season is slipping away, Brooklyn has lost seven of its past nine games.

Right now, a win means more to each team than any rivalry bragging rights.

"It did at one point," Anthony said when asked if the Knicks-Nets rivalry will ever matter. "But it will. This is New York. At the end of the day, we still have something to prove. They feel like they have something to prove, and we want to win."

The Knicks (4-14) and Nets (6-9) both can use a feel-good victory more than anything. And if their past five meetings are any indication, one team will walk away Tuesday night feeling pretty good.

In the past five encounters between the Knicks and Nets, the winning team has won by an average of 20.8 points. The Nets took the first meeting this season, 110-99, at Brooklyn last month.

Anthony has been trying not to let negativity sink into the Knicks' locker room with each loss.

"It's a challenging mindset," Anthony said of not letting the team become accustomed to losing. "I think anytime you're losing basketball games, negativity, lack of confidence can start to seep in.

"But that's something I don't want to deal with, we shouldn't have to deal with."

Anthony says "sometimes it only takes one" win to turn things around. The Knicks are hoping the Nets will bring out the best in them.

"We always are ready to go when we play Brooklyn," said Amar'e Stoudemire. "So hopefully that sparks [what] we need to help us get over the hump."

Knicks' health: Anthony said he felt normal "soreness" but that his back was feeling good after playing 41 minutes Sunday night against Miami.

However, J.R. Smith was not feeling better after playing only six minutes against Miami.

Head coach Derek Fisher said Smith came to see the medical staff at practice and then was sent home to rest with flu-like symptoms. Fisher hopes Smith feels better Tuesday, but his status is uncertain for the Nets game.

J.R.: 'I think we went with the best shot'

November, 13, 2014
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NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks signed Carmelo Anthony to a five-year, $124 million contract in July for moments like this: down two, 3.5 seconds to play, a chance to snap a debilitating five-game losing streak.

Get the ball to Melo, right?

Not quite.

Instead, J.R. Smith took a 27-footer from the top of the arc with 0.6 seconds left that went off the backboard and left the Knicks with their sixth straight loss.

"I think we went with the best shot," Smith said after the 97-95 loss to the Orlando Magic. "I think it was the right shot, and I just didn’t make it."

Surely, there are thousands of Knicks fans who would disagree. But Smith has a point.

Pablo Prigioni inbounded to Smith about 35 feet from the basket, thanks in part to strong denials from Magic defenders.

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AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJ.R. Smith failed to hit iron on his last-second shot.
If Smith passed the ball to Anthony, he would have had about two seconds to get a shot off from about 20 feet away.

"If I forced that into him, what kind of shot is he really going to have?" Smith said. "A turnaround fadeaway. It's not the best shot we want. I don't think it's enough [time] for him to set his feet and do what he wanted to do."

For what it's worth, Anthony took a diplomatic approach when he was asked about the final possession.

"I thought we ran the play that was designed," he said.

But Anthony's body language told a different story. He didn't look pleased with the shot as it was going up -- or after it failed to draw iron.

"Of course I want it. Whether he could have got it to me or not, that's a different question," Anthony said. "J.R., he had an open shot, or thought he had an open shot. That was that."

The end result, of course, was another Knicks loss. At 2-7, the Knicks are one game worse than they were last season through nine games.

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From president Phil Jackson on down, every member of the organization has been preaching patience during the losing streak.

But there are hints that the losses are taking a toll on the team's psyche.

"We need to stop worrying about how we're not going to lose games and worry about how we're going to win games," Anthony said after the game.

The Knicks' early schedule was daunting. They played six playoff teams in their first eight games. One of the nonplayoff teams was the Cleveland Cavaliers. So a slow start was to be expected.

But Wednesday's game was supposed to be a break from all of that.

Orlando came to the Garden with a 2-6 record. It was playing the second game of a road back-to-back and its third game in four nights.

"I thought this was a game we could have went out there and got tonight, [to] kind of get that monkey off our back, so this is a tough one to swallow," Anthony said. "We have to bounce back from this."

That's a position the Knicks have been in too often for Anthony’s liking.

"I don't want to keep saying the same thing, but we’ve got to stay with it," Anthony said. "I have to keep saying the same thing. I don't want to. Hopefully we get a chance to turn this thing around."

Question: Who do you think should have taken the last shot against Orlando? Should Derek Fisher have drawn up a better play to get the ball to Carmelo?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Amar'e hopes this is 'only the beginning'

November, 3, 2014
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NEW YORK –- As Amar’e Stoudemire stood and waited to begin his postgame interview session, Iman Shumpert told a group of reporters around him that Stoudemire was ready to talk.

“I ain’t ready,” Stoudemire joked. “I’m not even here. It’s my clone.”

If only the New York Knicks could clone the Stoudemire from Sunday night. The Knicks’ big man had his best game of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 23 efficient minutes to help the Knicks beat the Charlotte Hornets 96-93. He shot 7-for-13 from the field and was exactly the kind of force the Knicks need coming off the bench.

Apparently those red wine baths are doing something right.

“It was a phenomenal effort,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “A lot of people continue to question his ability. To do what he did tonight ... and he did it at a high level with a level of aggression and toughness. He meant that.”

It’s early but Stoudemire certainly showed what he can do when healthy and feeling good in this offense. He asserted himself in the third quarter when he hit all four of his shots and scored 10 points while grabbing four rebounds in 10 minutes.

“I mean that’s great, especially for me, coming off the bench with him,” J.R. Smith said. “People are always so keyed on what am I going to do. You’ve got somebody like STAT getting buckets inside and outside, it’s hard to guard. I mean, when we need buckets, when we throw that thing in the post, we have confidence in him. He feels that.”

Even though Stoudemire has had great success during his career playing off pick and rolls, the veteran said during training camp that he will be able to utilize his strengths in the triangle with opportunities to post, drive and hit mid-range jumpers.

Other than Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire is really the Knicks' only low-post offensive presence inside the paint.

Stoudemire is averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in the first three games of the season. And he has yet to play more than 24 minutes in a game, which is good as far as maintaining his minutes and health for the long run.

Fisher started Stoudemire in the season opener but the Knicks were drilled by the Bulls 104-80. Fisher realized he needed Stoudemire to come off the bench and help stabilize the second unit.

“He has been a great teammate in terms of willing to come off the bench,” Fisher said. “It was great to reward him tonight by getting the ball to him and letting him go to work.”

Stoudemire hopes this is just a preview of things to come this season. He’s excited about being healthy and he’s motivated to show he has plenty left in his tank in a contract year.

“Yeah, hopefully that is just the beginning,” Stoudemire said of his game. “I am looking to continue to improve as a player and help my teammates as much as I can on the basketball court and provide whatever the coaching staff needs me to do.

“Hopefully this is only just the beginning.”

Fish: Triangle hard to recognize sometimes

November, 1, 2014
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- There might’ve been times during the Cleveland game when it appeared that Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith would shoot or score off sets or early offense that did not look to resemble anything close to the triangle.

TNT analysts Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley also made occasional remarks noting when they thought the Knicks took a shot out of something that was not the triangle.

[+] EnlargeDerek Fisher
Jesse D. Garrabran/Getty ImagesKnicks coach Derek Fisher is happy to point out the benefits of the triangle's mysteries.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher was asked if his team played some non-triangle sets in the win over Cleveland or if he had simplified the offense a bit following the season-opening loss to Chicago.

“Well, no, I think it is hard for folks that haven’t played in this before to recognize when it is and when it isn’t,” Fisher explained. “So there are tons of things that we can do before and after that start in a triangle, end in a triangle, maybe there is no triangle.

“That is for us to know and everybody else to find out,” Fisher added with a chuckle.

Certainly, not every set is going to look like the triangle and have three players on one side of the court moving the ball. Fisher and team president Phil Jackson have said that they want the Knicks to push the ball when the opportunity presents itself and get some transition baskets and maybe into some early-offense situations.

And there will surely be times when Anthony is isolated on a defender to take advantage of a matchup or to try to score when the shot clock may be winding down.

“Yeah, we’ve tried to help our guys understand that the triangle is not this place that we exist in as soon as we touch the basketball,” Fisher said. “When we play solid defense, get rebounds and get steals, we want to run the floor and take advantage of things that we can early and then we settle into our offensive format after that.

“But there are ways that we get in and out of it that just gives a defense a different look,” Fisher added. “And it obviously gives the broadcasters a different look so I guess it is working well so far.”

J.R. the new Worm? 'I like it'

October, 17, 2014
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J.R. Smith knows all about Dennis Rodman calling him the “new” Rodman on Twitter. And he appreciates it.

“I thought it was funny. He took time out of his day to think about me and [Knicks president Phil Jackson], so I think it’s great," Smith said after practice Friday. "Being compared to Dennis Rodman anyway I think is a great thing, so I’ll take it, I like it."

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Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsIs that Dennis Rodman? Nope, it's J.R. Smith -- but he won't blame you for any confusion.
Rodman tweeted Wednesday that he thought of Smith as “the new Dennis Rodman.” On Friday, Smith addressed some of the similarities between the two players.

“I think the reputation [is similar],” Smith said. “Females. Nightlife. Whatever people want to say about us, we’re kind of similar. I think just in general overall, the way we are. We work hard on the court, we play hard off the court, so I’ll take it.”

Aside from sharing a love of tattoos, Smith and Rodman both have drawn attention for their on- and off-court activity.

Rodman accrued fines/suspensions for, among other things, kicking a cameraman and making disparaging remarks about Mormons.

Smith was fined last season for making a tweet the NBA deemed threatening and for untying opponents’ shoelaces. He was also suspended for the first five games of the 2013-14 season because he violated the NBA's drug policy.

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Smith has said in the past that he’s a bit misunderstood. His public persona doesn’t represent the person that those closest to him know, he's said.

That disparity is another similarity he sees between himself and Rodman.

“Deep down I think he’s a great person, for the people who actually know and take the time and don’t look at the sideline things he does or did, if you get to know him he’s a great person,” Smith said. “I think I’m the same way.”

The Smith-Rodman comparison was actually sparked before training camp by Jackson.

In an interview with the New York Post, Jackson was asked about Smith and whether he can “get through” to him. Jackson invoked Rodman’s name.

“I don’t know if that’s possible or not,” Jackson said. “He might be one of those guys that’s a little bit like Dennis Rodman that has an outlier kind of side to him. But I’m gonna get to know him as we go along, and we’ll find a way to either make him a very useful player on our organization, or whatever.”

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

ESPN Forecast: Knicks finish 38-44

October, 16, 2014
10/16/14
6:00
AM ET
Carmelo is back and he has Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to run things.

The Knicks should be better than last season right? Well, according to ESPN’s NBA Insider forecast, the Knicks will be one win better than last season.

That’s right, ESPN Forecast predicts the Knicks to go 38-44 and finish ninth in the Eastern Conference, one spot behind the Brooklyn Nets. Ouch.

Insider’s Jordan Brenner writes: “It's hard to imagine things being much better for the Knicks. They have the makings of a fairly effective offense, but their defense could be dreadful, especially after subtracting [Tyson] Chandler and adding [Jose] Calderon to a unit that already struggled at that end.”

Last year, SCHOENE correctly predicted the Knicks would finish 37-45 but had the Knicks placing seventh in the East. They did not make the playoffs, ending in the ninth spot.

This year, SCHOENE projects the Knicks to finish with a 32-50 record.

Jackson made changes to the roster, jettisoning Chandler and Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin. He drafted Cleanthony Early and added the likes of Jason Smith, Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw.

And of course, Jackson hired Fisher to coach. It remains to be seen how this current cast of Knicks will do in the triangle system before Jackson can potentially bring in significant help next summer.

For what it’s worth, my prediction is the Knicks will win 42 games. I definitely think there will be growing pains with the triangle. Fisher has never coached before and there will plenty of bumps in the road. Mastering the triangle is also no easy task. It could take months if not the season to learn it.

But last season, the Knicks lost a few games looking completely unmotivated. The Knicks also lost some games due to mental mistakes and lack of execution late. My guess is that the Knicks won’t lack motivation this season under a new coaching staff with Phil keeping a watchful eye as he assesses who to keep around.

Also, there are key players on contract years as well. Carmelo Anthony wants to prove that he can win playing it Phil’s way in the triangle and that he made the right decision by re-signing with the Knicks. Also, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are looking for bounce-back seasons.

Yes, the Knicks defense could be severely challenged on many nights. The offense might struggle to adapt to the triangle and there could be some ugly nights. But the Knicks have enough talent around Melo to win 42 games provided they can stay healthy.

What do you think of the ESPN Forecast prediction and what is your prediction for the season?

Worm: J.R. 'is the new Dennis Rodman'

October, 15, 2014
10/15/14
6:09
PM ET
Dennis Rodman and J.R. SmithGetty ImagesFrom one tattooed troublemaker to another, Dennis Rodman has named J.R. Smith his heir.
Dennis Rodman has given his stamp of approval on Phil Jackson likening J.R. Smith to The Worm.

The former Bulls and Pistons rebounder/antagonist tweeted that Smith is Rodman 2.0.



Jackson first made the comparison in an interview with The New York Post when asked about whether he can get through to Smith, who was fined $50,000 by the NBA for his shoelaces stunts in two games last season.

“I don’t know if that’s possible or not,” Jackson said. “He might be one of those guys that’s a little bit like Dennis Rodman that has an outlier kind of side to him. But I’m gonna get to know him as we go along, and we’ll find a way to either make him a very useful player on our organization, or whatever.”

Smith said the comparison to Rodman was a compliment.

“Last time I checked Dennis Rodman’s got what three, four rings?” Smith said during training camp at West Point. “I'm not offended by that. It’s an honor. He’s a Hall of Famer. And to be put in the same words as a Hall of Famer is something special. So I’m not offended at all.”


J.R. Smith made an interesting observation about the Knicks' new offense on Monday.

"You have to think the game more. It's just more of a complex way that we play, [more complex] than we're used to playing," Smith said after the Knicks' third preseason game. "We're used to just catching and going, stuff like that. Now, cutting, making sure we're getting in our right spots. It's just a conscious effort I think."

[+] EnlargeSmith
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJ.R. Smith scored 10 points off the bench within the Knicks' new triangle in an 81-76 loss to the Raptors.
The Knicks' new triangle offense has been hot and cold so far in the preseason.

They shot just 38 percent from the field and scored only 76 points in a loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

In their prior game, the Knicks scored 96 points and shot 53 percent from the floor.

Clearly, the offense is a work in progress.

The fluctuations are somewhat understandable, though.

Coach Derek Fisher is implementing an offensive system predicated on constant ball and player movement. Players are expected to read the defense and react accordingly in the triangle. It's a stark contrast from the isolation-based offense the Knicks ran under ex-head coach Mike Woodson.

"I think it's a conscious effort, honestly. … It's trying to take the good shots, trying to make sure we run the offense and get the good shot," Smith said of the triangle. "Don't shoot the ball with 20 [seconds] on the shot clock, stuff like that."

Several players and Fisher have said it will be some time before the team runs the offense with any type of precision.

Smith made the same point last week when he said it would take "a few months" for the Knicks to run the triangle smoothly.

He offered a more specific timetable on Monday.

"To just play without thinking, I think it's going to take some time, at least 2-3 months," Smith said. "To understand what we're supposed to do when [the defense] take certain things away and stuff like that, it will take some time. But we're working towards it, so we'll get there."

Carmelo Anthony also knows it will take time, but he reiterated on Monday that he is committed to seeing it through.

"I don't have a choice but to make it work. We don't have a choice [but] to make it work. Whether it [happens] now or it [happens] later, we don't have a choice but to make this work. I told you all early on, I'm willing to take that chance to try to make it work and be patient with it."

Smith believes it will take a "big adjustment" for some of his teammates to get accustomed to the new ball movement-heavy offense.

"It's definitely a big adjustment, but I think it's an adjustment in the right direction," Smith said. "Learning how to play with other people is, I think [the right thing]. It shows [because] teams who won play together. It's not just Melo, it’s not just me, [Amar'e Stoudemire], whoever. It's everybody collectively touching the ball, making cuts, stuff like that, scoring the ball, getting assists. It's not just two or three people scoring."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.1 3.1 0.9 36.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.0
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.4
StealsS. Larkin 1.3
BlocksL. Amundson 1.6