New York Knicks: Raymond Felton

Melo: Tyson deserves cheers in MSG return

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
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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.

ESPN Forecast: Knicks finish 38-44

October, 16, 2014
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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?

Burning Q's: Will defense be an issue?

August, 29, 2014
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With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.

Today’s question: Will the Knicks' defense be an issue again?

I think the Knicks’ defense will have its challenges again this season. I also believe that Derek Fisher will get the Knicks to play better D by installing a better scheme.

[+] EnlargeDerek Fisher
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesWill Derek Fisher be able to fix the Knicks' D?
Last season, the Knicks were often confused on defense and all the switching did not go smoothly. They also looked completely unmotivated at times on that end of the floor.

While Fisher may have some growing pains in his first season as a head coach, he should be able to get the Knicks to be more motivated on defense.

However, the personnel’s strong suit isn’t on the defensive end. And Phil Jackson’s biggest trade thus far involved sending the team’s defensive anchor, Tyson Chandler, to Dallas. The Knicks got a defending big back in Samuel Dalembert but the key piece in that deal, Jose Calderon, isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess.

Let’s start at point guard with Calderon. He clearly will help the team with his outside and locker room presence. He averages just under one steal a game for his career and the 6-3 point guard, like his predecessor Raymond Felton, will have difficulty keeping speedy and athletic point guards in front of him. The same thing goes for Pablo Prigioni. Shane Larkin, the other point guard that came in the Chandler trade, will have to prove himself in order to get minutes. Even then, he’s 5-11 so his size hurts defensively.

The Knicks need Iman Shumpert to be their best overall defender. Jackson had success with an athletic swingman creating offense off of steals much in the way Scottie Pippen did for the Bulls. Shumpert is no Pippen, but he will have to be a sparkplug defensively for this team.

J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are not great defenders and will have to step up when their opponents have the ball. Anthony can help on the boards with Chandler gone. Tim Hardaway Jr. showed great promise last season but defensively he has much to improve on.

Jackson added forwards like Cleanthony Early, Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy. But none are exceptional defenders. Acy should add some toughness.

The Knicks do have some capable shot blockers in Amar'e Stoudemire, Dalembert and Jason Smith. Even Andrea Bargnani can block shots, averaging 1.2 blocks in 42 games last season. But can all those bigs stay healthy? None are intimidating on the back end, especially with Stoudemire's knees keeping him from playing the way he did when he was younger.

The Knicks will have to find a way to replace Chandler’s defensive presence and IQ inside. Chandler blocked 1.1 shots a game last season but often affected other shots with his length and he was a good help defender. Somebody will have to hold the last line of defense, communicate and make sure everybody is on the same page. Kenyon Martin could help in that department a bit but he's a free agent and he also was limited by injuries last season.

Defense was an issue last year. Even with a new coach and some new blood on the team, it looks like it will be an issue for this team again.

Question: Do you think the Knicks' defense will be an issue this season?

Burning Q's: Do Knicks have enough size?

August, 27, 2014
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With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.

Today’s question: Do the Knicks have enough size to compete?

When Phil Jackson traded Tyson Chandler earlier this summer, the Zen Master was lauded for not only being able to ship Chandler and Raymond Felton out of town but also for bringing in Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and two second-round picks, which helped land Cleanthony Early.

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Do the Knicks have enough size to compete?

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While Chandler was looking for a fresh start elsewhere, the Knicks parted with their best rebounder and interior defender. When healthy, he provided the Knicks with an active big man who was the last line of defense.

Now, the Knicks start the Derek Fisher era with uncertainty inside the paint. Yes, Carmelo Anthony can be a force on the boards. But does he have enough help inside?

Let’s start with Dalembert, who could be the starter. When given steady minutes, he can rebound and certainly can block shots. The 6-foot-11 center has career averages of 7.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game over his 12-year career.

Dalembert is probably at his most effective within a 20- to 25-minute range. Over the past six years, he has averaged no more than 25.9 minutes per game during a season. Last season, Dalembert played 20.2 minutes a game and averaged 6.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for the Mavericks.

At 33, Dalembert should be able to provide the Knicks with rebounding and blocked shots but not heavy minutes.

The wild card for the Knicks could be 7-footer Jason Smith. He provides the Knicks with a center capable of burying the midrange jumper, rebounding and blocking shots. Smith, 28, averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game in 31 games last season before missing time with a knee injury.

Smith has had trouble staying healthy, playing more than 50 games in a season only once in the past three years. But he could be a good fit in the triangle if he avoids injury.

Speaking of health, the Knicks would benefit if Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani can stay on the court. Stoudemire showed flashes last season of the old Amar'e, averaging 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 22.6 minutes a game. It remains to be seen how he will fit in the triangle, but his ability to hit shots from the outside helps. Fisher shouldn’t use Stoudemire for a ton of minutes, obviously, due to his knees. But Stoudemire has said he feels better, and he is entering a contract year.

Bargnani, the 7-foot offensive-minded big man, might like playing in the triangle with his ability to shoot from the outside. He averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 42 games, missing time with an elbow injury. Bargnani is also entering a contract year, so he should be motivated. Being reunited with Calderon also should help.

The Knicks acquired the 6-9 Travis Outlaw and 6-7 Quincy Acy, and backup center Cole Aldrich adds depth. Early is thin, but at 6-8 he adds some length.

In the East, Cleveland boasts Kevin Love, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. Chicago now has Pau Gasol to go with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

The Raptors still have a rising Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. The Wizards re-signed Marcin Gortat and added Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair to go with Nene. The Heat still have Chris Bosh, and the Hornets still have Al Jefferson.

The Knicks may not have the offensive firepower inside like some of these other East playoff contenders. They don’t have one athletic big man who can log 30-plus minutes and be a surefire double-double guy. They will likely have to rely on Melo to be that force on the boards.

Fisher will have to go with size by committee. Where I see the biggest concern inside is defensively for the Knicks. There are some shot-blockers, but can they defend in the post? Will they be able to win the battle on the defensive boards?

Much of the answer rests with their health. If their bigs can remain active, the Knicks should have just enough size to be in contention for a playoff spot in the East.

Question: Do the Knicks have enough size to compete and be a playoff team?

Position analysis: Point guard

July, 28, 2014
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Pablo PrigioniJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesPablo Prigioni, a savvy veteran who can provide outside shooting, is still under contract.
Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the Knicks currently stand position-by-position. Today, we look at point guard.

POINT GUARD

New additions: PG Jose Calderon, PG Shane Larkin.

Returning/on roster: PG Pablo Prigioni

Gone: PG Raymond Felton, PG/SG Shannon Brown, PG Beno Udrih.

The starter: Calderon. Acquired in the Felton and Tyson Chandler trade to Dallas, the Knicks improved their shooting at the point guard position. It remains to be seen how Calderon does defensively for the Knicks. He could struggle to defend but the Knicks are expecting Calderon to improve the team’s chemistry in addition to the shooting.

The wild card: Larkin. Also acquired in the Dallas trade, Larkin was the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft. He played in just 48 games, averaging 2.8 points in 10.2 minutes per game. But the Knicks have a young, albeit small at 5-11, point guard to develop. Perhaps Larkin could be a spark on some nights.

Outlook: The Knicks did upgrade at point guard by bringing in Calderon after Felton struggled mightily last season. Calderon also could be a much better fit in the triangle than the underachieving Felton. Calderon averaged 11.4 points, 45.6% shooting overall and made 44.9% of his shots from behind the three-point arc last season. He also averaged 4.7 assists for the Mavs. Felton shot just 39.5% from the field and 31.8% from three-point land. Prigioni shot 46.4% from behind the arc last season. With the Knicks going to a triangle this season, Calderon and Prigioni may be counted on for their outside shooting. Phil Jackson’s point guards in the past often were more spot-up shooters like John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong. The point guard that will make the biggest difference on the team is the one who is retired -– Derek Fisher. Even though he is coaching for the first time in his career, Fisher brings a wealth of championship experience, toughness and leadership. If Fisher can transfer that to the team from the sidelines, the Knicks’ point guard play can only get better after last season.

Question: How do you think the Knicks did at point guard this offseason?

Melo begins planning while Phil deals

June, 25, 2014
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We’re still days away from July 1, and things are heating up with the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony.

Phil Jackson struck a big deal Wednesday to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas in exchange for point guard Jose Calderon, center Samuel Dalembert, point guard prospect Shane Larkin, reserve shooter Wayne Ellington and the 34th and 51st picks in Thursday's draft, as reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein.

I’ll get to that trade in a bit. First, let’s look at Chris Broussard's report that Carmelo will meet with the Rockets, Mavericks and Bulls once July 1 hits and free agency begins.

According to Broussard, Anthony will grant those three teams the chance to make their pitch to him, but there is no true favorite at the moment in Melo's mind. Other teams will probably get the same opportunity to talk to Melo, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, the home of Melo’s close friend Kobe Bryant. Bryant told ESPN.com in a text message that he plans to meet with Anthony eventually.

As for Miami, sources told Broussard that there has been no talk from Anthony’s camp about going to the Heat. Of course, there’s plenty of time for that to change, and the Big Three were reportedly meeting on Wednesday to discuss their futures, so things are very much developing.

But let's get back to Melo. As a free agent, Melo has earned the right to talk to any team he wants. Houston will try to entice Melo with the notion of playing alongside a big man such as Dwight Howard and possibly a scorer such as James Harden, to take some of the burden and minutes off Melo’s shoulders. Houston can also pitch no state income tax as well.

But Broussard also reported that if Houston can clear cap space to sign LeBron James, the Rockets might try to attempt a sign-and-trade with the Knicks to acquire Anthony, which would likely include Harden going to New York.

If you’re going to lose Melo, Harden certainly wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize to receive in return. Despite what you might think of his defense, Harden can fill it up offensively, averaging 25 points, about six assists and nearly five rebounds the past two seasons for Houston, and he’s only 24 years old. Phil has to start collecting assets, and Harden is an asset.

As for Dallas, the Mavs just got two of Melo’s former teammates. So Chandler and Felton could try to persuade Melo to join them. Mark Cuban is an owner who is willing to spend money and has won it all before. And Dirk Nowitzki can also try to convince Melo to share the load with him.

And then there’s Chicago, considered by some to be the front-runner for Anthony. Tom Thibodeau is as good a coach as there is in the league. And Chicago can sell a talented big man in Joakim Noah. Derrick Rose will be attempting another comeback from a season-ending injury, but we know what he can do when healthy. And there’s young talent in Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, if the Bulls can hold on to them and still create space to pay Melo.

Lastly, there’s the Knicks. I’m not discounting a return to New York at all. The Knicks can pay Melo more than anybody, and $129.1 million over five seasons is quite an argument for staying. But Phil is also the draw. Wednesday’s trade shows he’s not sitting still. The Zen Master is orchestrating something, and we will have to wait and see what exactly that is.

Calderon might be a slight upgrade over Felton and a better shooter, but he comes with a price tag of $7 million and slightly more for the next three seasons. Maybe Calderon will be traded again later. Who knows. If he stays, he can shoot, distribute the ball and likely is a better fit than Felton in the triangle.

Larkin, drafted 18th overall in 2013, could develop into a young asset if the Knicks keep him. They could also trade him. Dalembert could provide rebounding and blocks, if the Knicks keep him. Ellington can shoot. And the two second-round picks are two more assets the Knicks didn’t have at the beginning of the day. The 34th pick could yield a contributor in a draft considered to be deep.

Something tells us Phil is not done, not by a long shot. So just as Carmelo begins to map out his free-agency tour, Phil has put his master plan into motion.

Melo’s decision will not be an easy one. And by the time Phil and Melo sit down and talk again in July, the Knicks could have a more solid plan to sell Anthony to combat the Bulls, Rockets, Mavs and other suitors.

July 1 isn't here yet, but the "Summer of Melo" is off and running.
A week ago, Derek Fisher was introduced as head coach of the New York Knicks.

And it didn’t take Fisher long to start installing the mentality he wants his team to have -- that the Knicks have enough to win already and can't hope for significant help to come soon.

Fisher seemed pretty realistic about the challenge that lies ahead of him. The new coach knows the team’s cap limitations likely mean the Knicks will have to win with what they've got and that there’s no significant help coming anytime soon. Fisher knows that New York likely will not be able to add another star until 2015.

So Fisher began selling the idea that the Knicks, who won just 37 games last season, must maximize what they have and not succumb to the prevailing thought that Carmelo Anthony needs more help in order for the Knicks to win.

“We’re not going to create magic by making someone Magic Johnson who isn’t Magic Johnson,” Fisher explained. “But at the same time, we have a guy, everyone has a franchise guy. ... Right now, as we speak, Carmelo Anthony is that guy for us. We have one, that guy.

“So the job is how do we not try to find a way to put him next to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or other players equal to his talent,” Fisher continued. “But how do you make the most of what you have? That’s the message that I’ll send to these players, every single day. We have to bloom where we’re planted a lot of times in life. We can’t look for ways out, and excuses why you aren’t excelling and doing things at a higher level.”

Of course, Fisher knows he could lose Anthony in free agency next month, which certainly would make his rookie season as a head coach incredibly difficult. Fisher doesn’t have much of a choice, he has to believe he can win with much of the same core together.

Barring something unforeseen, the Knicks will have to improve from within, see what they might be able to land with the taxpayer's midlevel exception ($3.3 million) and hope that Lamar Odom has something left in the tank.

If Anthony remains, Fisher likely will have J.R. Smith, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, Andrea Bargnani, Tim Hardaway Jr. and possibly Raymond Felton, among others, supporting Melo. The Knicks certainly hope they can strike some deals to trade Felton and others. But any deal likely is going to be difficult.

Besides establishing a winning mentality, Fisher wants to find the right system to maximize his roster’s potential, one that will spread the wealth and not depend on one or two players.

“There are a lot of very, very talented players, not just average players,” Fisher said of the Knicks’ roster. “We obviously will have to work to keep some of those -- one guy [Anthony] we talked about in particular. But there’s a lot of talent, ability, versatility on this roster.

“So it’s our job to find a way to get the most out of the players we have,” Fisher continued. “There’ll be personnel decisions made going forward over the years that players will come, players will go, but at the end of the day we have to find a way to create a format, a system, a way of playing that makes it easy for players to play the game, to be more effective, to utilize the full talent of our roster, not lean so heavily on one or two guys. We believe we can do it.”

Phil Jackson obviously would like that system to be the triangle. Fisher believes in the triangle, but says he will do what he and his coaching staff think is best for the team.

“I’ve also played with other great coaches that don’t run the triangle,” Fisher said. “It’s not necessarily the only way to play basketball. But what we will do is do what we feel is best for our team. ... I believe with the roster we have we can utilize it to be more efficient, to be more effective, to give ourselves a better chance to play better defense by getting higher-percentage shots. So I believe in the [triangle] system.

“But ultimately we have to do what’s best for the players and the team to be successful,” Fisher added. “I love the triangle, but we’ll do what we feel like is best for the group.”
Phil Jackson will have to wait to get the point guard he wants to lead his team as head coach until Derek Fisher and Oklahoma City are eliminated from the playoffs.

But Jackson could find out a little more about the future of his team's starting point guard, Raymond Felton, very soon.

Felton is due back in court Monday for felony weapons possession. Pending the outcome of his case, the NBA could suspend Felton. The Knicks could also explore options to void his contract. None of this will make it any easier to trade Felton, who has two years left on a four-year, $15 million deal.

So how can the Knicks improve, if at all, at point guard? Let’s look at three possible options:

1. Trade Felton: Striking a deal would obviously benefit the Knicks, but trading Felton will be awfully difficult. Besides his legal case, Felton is coming off a poor season in which he averaged a career-low 9.7 points per game. He also averaged 5.6 assists and 39.5 percent shooting in 65 games.

Jackson will earn a good deal of his salary if he somehow finds a taker for Felton. We'll see if Jackson can pull off any magic as an executive.

2. Explore the free-agent market: Jackson won’t have many options on the free-agent market considering the Knicks’ cap limitations.

As our Ian Begley points out, the Knicks are projected to be over the cap even if Carmelo Anthony leaves via free agency, with both Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani expected to exercise their player options.

That means the Knicks likely will have only the taxpayer’s midlevel exception (starting at $3.3 million for up to three seasons) and the standard veteran’s minimum contract to work with.

Among the point guards expected to be available via free agency this summer are Kyle Lowry, Shaun Livingston, Jerryd Bayless, Steve Blake, Luke Ridnour, Devin Harris, Jordan Farmar, Ramon Sessions, Earl Watson and Patty Mills.

Forget about Lowry, who will look to command much more after a breakout season.

Livingston, who would appear to be a great fit based on Jackson’s history of having a 6-foot-7 versatile defender who can also work in the post, is likely also out of the Knicks' price range. Even if Livingston doesn't find a market for him above the $3.3 million midlevel, he would likely return to the Nets for the same amount.

As Begley points out in the Knicks’ potential free-agent targets gallery, Blake seems to make sense, considering he has played in Jackson’s triangle offense.

We’ll have to see how much $3.3 million can get Jackson, since the Knicks need help in as many spots as they can get. But if Fisher ends up becoming the Knicks’ next coach, he will want and need a point guard who can help him teach the triangle and execute his vision.

3. Get in-house help: If Felton can continue playing and the Knicks can't unload him, the 'Bockers must hope Felton returns motivated and inspired for a bounce-back season.

Meanwhile, Pablo Prigioni, a savvy veteran who can provide outside shooting, is still under contract. But the Knicks need to upgrade at point and add someone familiar with Jackson's system.

The Knicks did sign two vets late in the season who might be able to help. Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom both played for Jackson and know the intricacies of the triangle. They were teammates with Fisher, and if both are in camp this fall, they could aid Fisher or whomever Jackson hires as the next head coach.

Odom is versatile enough to be a point-forward type, but it remains to be seen how much he has left. He is a low-risk move, so if he can contribute, he could help the Knicks if they don’t land a more conventional point guard.

In the triangle, Jackson often put the ball in the hands of his best scorer, so the Knicks might be able to get by without a playmaking point guard.

Still, Jackson needs to upgrade at the position, which could be affected by Felton’s legal issues next week.

Put on your GM cap and tell us how you think the Knicks can improve at point guard.
Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson and Kobe BryantAndrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesThe triangle has made champions out of many. So where do the current Knicks fit in?
TORONTO -- The Mike Woodson era is over.

The triangle era is nearly upon us.

On the day he was hired as the New York Knicks' president, Phil Jackson made it no secret he wants to see the team play system basketball. Unfortunately for the franchise, the Zen Master says he’s not entertaining any thoughts about returning to the bench. But it makes all the sense in the world to hire one of his former disciples (Steve Kerr?) and then help the new coach install and teach the triangle offense.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how some of the Knicks' current pieces fit, or don’t fit, in the triangle assuming that the core -- and Carmelo Anthony -- of the team is intact for next season:

Anthony
Anthony
Melo: Without a doubt, it will be a transition for Anthony. But Jackson’s championship teams were always built around an incredible scoring talent. Can Anthony follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant?

If we're talking about his ability to play in the triangle, I think he can. He can direct the offense and work within the system's principles and find enough opportunities to pick and choose his spots. He might not be as athletic, graceful or as high-flying as Jordan and Bryant. Melo is more of a bull inside compared to those two. However, Melo is excellent at scoring on his man -- like MJ and Kobe -- and should be able to work out of the post like Jordan did at times.

Anthony will have to improve his passing, trust his teammates and will need them to make plays and make the right decisions in the triangle. Patience, which is a major requirement of Jackson, will be a must. Melo has said if he re-signs, he will do whatever Phil asks of him.


Stoudemire
Stoudemire
Amar'e: Amar'e Stoudemire has thrived in pick-and-roll situations. But he can score in the low post and shoot the mid-range jumper -- two things he should get out of the triangle. Stoudemire will have to improve his passing. He might not be able to pass like Pau Gasol did for Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers championship teams, but Jackson won his first three titles with the Chicago Bulls with Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright as his primary power forward and center.

Grant improved his mid-range jumper in the triangle. And Stoudemire should be able to get open shots in the system. Andrea Bargnani might also benefit from the triangle as well.


J.R. Smith
Smith
J.R.: What the Knicks currently lack -- and what many of Jackson’s teams had -- is a versatile swing man. Obviously there is no Scottie Pippen on the roster. The Knicks don’t even have anybody as versatile as Toni Kukoc. They could even use a Rick Fox-type. Jackson typically has a swing man who can do a little of everything.

J.R. Smith does provide the Knicks with outside shooting and the ability to slash to the basket. Jackson’s teams had some great spot-up shooters, such as John Paxson, Craig Hodges, B.J. Armstrong, Robert Horry and Glen Rice.

Smith will need to be patient and take fewer quick shots without passing. He has to be able to play without the ball and move. But if Smith can pick up the triangle, he will be able to also pick and choose spots to score within the offense. All of this can be said for Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. Jackson did sign Lamar Odom, but it remains to be seen what Odom has left in the tank and in the head.


Felton
Felton
Raymond Felton: Jackson’s point guards during his championship years included the likes of Paxson, Armstrong, Kerr, Ron Harper, Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw. In other words, Jackson doesn’t need an elite point guard or an incredible talent at the 1 with the triangle. But he does need a smart point guard, and one who can preferably hit open shots from the outside.

Raymond Felton’s future is a bit uncertain given his legal situation. And his outside shooting has to improve. Jackson could bring in a veteran point guard to help, much in the way he used Harper on his teams.


Defense: The Knicks have to improve defensively. Jordan and Pippen were all-time defenders. But Jackson’s teams have always had some good defenders from Grant to Dennis Rodman to a younger Harper. Many of them were able to get steals and force turnovers that led to momentum-changing breaks.

Shumpert could be the next defender to shine under Jackson’s watch.

Shumpert
Shumpert
“I’m still a coach that believes in pressure defense,” Jackson said recently. “Anticipation, turnovers become run-outs. I was able to tell Iman that’s what has to be seen on a basis that we’d like to see from game to game.”

“The triangle offense is one of the best offenses to run because of its balance and because players can play defense out of an offense like that,” Jackson later added. “Instead of having stretched players who are standing in corners and have to recover from a difficult situation, you have guys that are in balance and there is an opportunity to defend from your offense.”

On Jackson's Bulls teams, Grant and Scott Williams provided energy, shot-blocking and rebounding. And of course, Jackson had Rodman for the second Bulls' three-peat. Tyson Chandler should be able to duplicate some of those things but will also need to improve on his passing.

“I think anybody can fit in it,” Chandler said. “I played in a triangle when I was younger in my Chicago days. It is equal opportunity. It allows the game to dictate who takes the shot, and everybody else understands that and understands how to play off of it and I think that will be beneficial for this team.”

Opening Tip: Who to fault for this season?

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
12:00
AM ET
Mike Woodson, James Dolan, Carmelo Anthony Getty ImagesThis Knicks season has been absolutely awful -- who's to blame for this season?
With the New York Knicks’ playoff chances fading with just four games remaining, it’s hard not to think about what went wrong and how the 'Bockers got into this position in the first place.

The Knicks started the season with high expectations and now they could be playing out the final four games of their season with no postseason and no picks for this coming draft.

So with that in mind, who do you place the onus on for this disastrous season? Of course, everybody played a part in the Knicks’ failure this season but who do you point the finger at the most? Here are five candidates to choose from:

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James Dolan: The owner truly felt that this roster had what it took to win it all when the season started. He oversaw changes in the offseason that included the acquisition of Andrea Bargnani, demotion of GM Glen Grunwald and hiring of Steve Mills.

The Knicks went in a younger direction after key veterans helped them win 54 games last season. The team’s strong ties to CAA also led to J.R. Smith’s brother, Chris, making the roster at the start of the season. And other offseason additions like Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih ended badly with buyouts.

For better or worse, Dolan opted not to make major changes in-season whether it was not trading for Kyle Lowry or keeping Mike Woodson as coach. Dolan, though, didn't completely stand pat. He deserves credit for chasing and ultimately landing Phil Jackson even if he had to give up a small fortune. The Jackson hiring gives the Knicks what feels like a tidal wave of hope for the future even if it doesn't end with a title.

Mike Woodson: The man who coached the Knicks to 54 wins a season ago won’t be able to win more than 37 games even if he finishes the season 4-0. He has had to deal with a slew of injuries to Tyson Chandler, Smith (who started the season with a five-game suspension), Raymond Felton, Bargnani and Kenyon Martin among others. But he had difficulty getting the Knicks to play consistently, there were defensive breakdowns and confusion on some nights and basketball IQ flops at the end of games against Washington and Milwaukee.

There were also embarrassingly awful losses to the Celtics, Spurs, Kings, Sixers and Lakers just to name a few. The Knicks were more inconsistent than a flip-flopping politician as guys like Chandler, Felton, Smith and Iman Shumpert all played below their 2012-2013 level. But despite all that and Phil’s hiring, Woodson oversaw a late surge in which the Knicks have won 12 of their last 17 games.

Carmelo Anthony: In what could potentially be his last season as a Knick before becoming a free agent, he’s averaging 27.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in a career-high 38.9 minutes a game. Melo authored an all-time Knick performance with 62 points against Charlotte and was often the only reason why to watch the team for much of this dreadful season. Anthony is trying to battle through a shoulder injury in an attempt to get the Knicks in the playoffs.

Anthony knew the team would look to him to lead more this season with Jason Kidd gone and he tried calling team meetings early in the season. But there’s only so much Anthony can do. The All-Star has felt the burden of the Knicks’ struggles this season according to Jackson and all this comes right before he will opt out his contract later this summer.

J.R. Smith: Smith’s 2013-’14 got off to a smashing start with offseason surgery on his left knee shortly after signing a three-year, $18-million contract in July. He then served a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program to start the season. Woodson has often pointed back toward the suspension as one of the many things that went wrong this season.

Smith, though, has come on as of late and has begun playing like the Sixth Man of the Year from last season. He has buried a total of 41 three-pointers in his last seven games and looks healthy again.

Jason Kidd: How damaging was his departure? Players have talked repeatedly about how much they miss his leadership and basketball IQ on the court and in the locker room. Without Kidd, the Knicks’ point guard play struggled with Felton going through a tough season. And as if it wasn’t bad enough that Kidd retired, he then took his smarts to the rival Nets and led them to a stunning turnaround since Jan. 1 –- all while the Knicks have been struggling.

Up now: Can the decision-making duo of Phil and Mills do special things for the Knicks next season?

The Knicks will need an Atlanta meltdown to make the playoffs.

What's next: Knicks try to keep their slim hopes alive at Toronto at 7 p.m.

Question of the day: Who do you place much of the blame on for the Knicks’ woes this season?

Rapid Reaction: Suns 102, Knicks 88

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
12:33
AM ET
The Knicks are still fighting for a playoff spot, right?

They looked like a team planning offseason vacations and scheduling tee times on Friday night in Phoenix.

New York was absolutely embarrassed by the Suns, falling behind by as many as 32 points in a 102-88 loss.

The defeat dropped the Knicks two games back of the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks, who were idle on Friday, but New York trails the Hawks by three games in the loss column with just nine games to play.

Eight of the Knicks' final nine games are against teams in playoff position.

Missing the point: There was plenty of blame to go around on Friday, but if you’re looking for one guy to point the finger at, you might want to take a look at Raymond Felton.

Felton and his fellow Knicks perimeter defenders were torched by Phoenix’s Goran Dragic.

Dragic torched the Knicks for 18 points in the first quarter and finished with 32 points on 11 of 17 shooting.

Dragic hit five of his nine 3-point attempts, and Phoenix knocked down 14 of 33 overall from deep.

Markieff Morris crushed the Knicks with 16 points off the bench on 5-for-7 shooting, and Eric Bledsoe added 16, seven rebounds and six assists.

Awful effort: You’d think a team that had a chance to close to within one game of eighth place would come out with high energy and effort. That didn’t happen. They trailed by 22 in the second quarter and were outscored in fast-break points 15-0 in the first half. They were also outscored 28-8 in the paint in the first half.

That’s Amar’e: The final score aside, Amar’e Stoudemire made a good impression in his return to Phoenix, where he spent the first eight seasons of his career. Stoudemire had 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 21 points on 8-for-20 shooting, but Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker did a nice job slowing him down.

Tyson Chandler had a rough night, finishing with one point on 0-for-4 shooting and seven rebounds. The Knicks were outscored by 21 with Chandler on the floor, but he wasn't alone in that plus-minus measure tonight.

What’s next: The Knicks will play the Golden State Warriors on Sunday in Oakland, Calif.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
New York Knicks guard Raymond Felton has shot just 7-for-32 in his past four games since his arrest last week on two counts of criminal gun possession.

When Felton spoke for the first time to reporters after he appeared in court, the point guard said his legal situation was not a distraction to the team. But Knicks coach Mike Woodson told reporters after the team's loss at the Detroit Pistons on Monday that he thinks Felton's play has shown that he is distracted by his off-the-court issues.

“It’s a distraction, there’s no doubt about that," Woodson told reporters, according to the New York Daily News. "I’m gonna need him to play, that’s it. I know he’s carrying a lot on his shoulders, but we have his back and we support him.”

Felton has a total of 22 points and 17 assists in the past four games.

“The ball just ain’t going in the basket for me," Felton told reporters after Monday's game. "It’s very frustrating. My personal life is my personal life. At the same time, obviously if you’re dealing with something, it’s on your mind."

"But I try not to let that come into my job. This is my job. I gotta perform and I gotta do my job.”

JVG: Blame it on the roster

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
1:49
PM ET
The Knicks have lost seven straight and have won just two games since the end of January.

They are in a crazy free fall and Carmelo Anthony has run out of any possible explanation as to why the Knicks can’t win.

Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy was asked to break down the Knicks’ woes on the "Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco" show on ESPN New York 98.7. And he pointed the finger at the roster.

Incognito We've got to get better, more committed players. And when we do, all of us Knicks fans are going to be happier.

-- Jeff Van Gundy
“I think there are serious roster issues," Van Gundy said. "Along with that, they have their three most important perimeter players, [Raymond] Felton, [Iman] Shumpert and J.R. Smith, all played well to very well last year and each are having a subpar year this year. And then add in the two guys they signed, Metta World Peace and [Beno] Udrih, just bought out because of the little impact they had, and some injuries along the way, particularly to Tyson Chandler."

Van Gundy added: “They are really struggling to find ways to stop people right now. I think their collective spirit has been shattered by this season, particularly after they had played so well last year winning the division title.”

Van Gundy also pointed to Amar'e Stoudemire's health and enormous contract that saps the Knicks’ cap.

“I think Stoudemire, his health has been a huge drain to their cap,” Van Gundy said. “He started out great here in New York. I think he still has seemingly worked very hard to get as good as he can be here, but right now you can’t count on him every day.”

While the Knicks have been able to count on Melo for 28 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals every game, Van Gundy said that Anthony deserves credit for the Knicks' 54 wins last season and blame for their utter failure this season.

“When you are the best player, you have to accept equal amounts credit and blame,” Van Gundy said. “He would have to say to himself, ‘Hey, listen, I have to do more and do better.’ And I think that is how your best players should think.

“He has had a terrific year, but I also think he is at a point in his career where he realizes stats that you are putting up while losing are rendered meaningless,” Van Gundy said. “Because at the end of the day, the stats that we really recognize are the ones put up when teams are winning.”

And a major reason why the Knicks aren’t winning these days is because of an underachieving roster above all else, according to Van Gundy.

“I think the focus has to be on what’s really wrong,” Van Gundy said of critics who place blame on everything from coach Mike Woodson to Madison Square Garden’s media policy. “We've got to get better, more committed players. And when we do, all of us Knicks fans are going to be happier.”

Woody: No talk of sitting Raymond Felton

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
4:02
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Mike Woodson expressed his total support for Raymond Felton on Wednesday.

The Knicks coach said there was never any discussion by the team about potentially sitting Felton due to the point guard's legal problems.

"Not at all," Woodson said. "I haven’t read the paper today to know what’s actually been said, but that was never an issue in terms of Ray coming back. We were just trying to get him back with the team and around people that love him and try to get him back on track and get him ready to play him tomorrow."

Felton practiced with the team before flying to Miami, where the Knicks face the Heat on Thursday.

Woodson was asked if his team has ever been informed about things such as the New York gun law prior to Felton's situation.

"Yeah, we have in-house security," Woodson said. "That’s always been addressed. Again, I don’t know the exact laws. I’m not a lawyer by any means. Trying to be a coach. So it is addressed. In that regard, our players have some idea what’s going on, I guess."

What do you guys think? Should the Knicks have given Felton some time off? Should Felton have thought about taking some time off or return and play right away like he will do? Let us know.

What's next for Felton, Knicks?

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
10:45
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The ever topsy-turvy Knicks season took another unexpected turn on Tuesday with Raymond Felton’s gun charges.

After turning himself into police early Tuesday morning, Felton appeared in court and was charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.

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Each is considered a felony in New York state. Felton’s case was adjourned until June 2. He was handed a six-month order of protection from his estranged wife, bail set at $25,000, and there are no legal restrictions from traveling.

While nothing else is definitive, let’s take a look at what this all means from a basketball perspective:

What's next?: The NBA is monitoring the Felton situation. New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has his first controversy to deal with, and we will see how he handles it.

My guess is the NBA likely won't take any action regarding the Knicks point guard, unless he is found guilty on any of the counts he’s facing. But we will have to see.

If the NBA doesn’t suspend Felton, the Knicks could opt to take action, but that doesn’t seem likely since Felton’s case against those counts hasn’t taken place yet.

ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley reports that Felton is expected to practice on Wednesday and play against Miami on Thursday, barring unforeseen punishment from the NBA or Knicks, according to a league source.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson is expected to meet with reporters on Wednesday, and perhaps some players also will talk.

What it means for Felton: Felton was already in the midst of a bad season, averaging a career-low 10.4 points to go with 29.6 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Felton has had a tumultuous time off the court, clearly. And now Felton has to worry about what his future holds.

In the meantime, if the NBA and the Knicks opt to let him play against the Heat and moving forward, Felton has nowhere to go but up as far as his play is concerned. Perhaps he will find refuge from his problems on the court. With his court date taking place in June, Felton could conceivably play the entire season out.

[+] EnlargeRay Felton
AP Photo/John MinchilloRaymond Felton posted $25,000 bail and was released from jail with two felony firearms charges.
But even if he is allowed to play, Felton’s future after this season is murky at best. Felton is slated to earn $3.6 million this season and $3.7 million next season. He has a player option for $3.9 million in 2015-16.

What it means for the Knicks: Certainly the Felton situation is an embarrassment for the franchise, and owner James Dolan can’t be pleased.

If Felton is later found guilty, the Knicks could look into ways of getting out of Felton’s contract. They already were reportedly trying to trade him before the trading deadline.

Pablo Prigioni may become even more important to the Knicks if Felton struggles even more on the court and with the uncertainty surrounding Felton's future.

In a season full of reality-television drama, Felton’s gun charges marks the low point of the season. The Knicks (21-36) were six games out of the eighth spot entering Monday's game, and their starting point guard now has legal problems.

With 15 of their remaining 25 games on the road, making the playoffs might be harder for the Knicks than clearing cap space and luring another star to play for them this summer.

Perhaps the Knicks will rally around Felton and somehow play better. Who knows? It’s been a wacky season already. Either way, free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony has to be wondering what else could possibly go wrong in this disastrous season.

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TEAM LEADERS

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Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.5 3.3 0.9 37.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.4
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.5
StealsP. Prigioni 1.3
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3