New York Knicks: Twitter Mailbag

Twitter Mailbag: Shump on the outs?

November, 16, 2013
Welcome to this week's Twitter mailbag. I like to take questions from you on Twitter once a week and answer them in this space. This week, we discuss the growing Pablo Prigioni/Raymond Felton debate, Iman Shumpert trade rumors and J.R. Smith in the starting five.


Hey, Verts, I think you bring up an interesting point. For what it's worth, Woodson addressed this Friday during his weekly radio appearance on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. He basically said Prigioni has been successful with the minutes he's been allotted. So it doesn't sound as if he's inclined to play him more.

Defensively, I think Prigioni is fantastic at providing full-court pressure on the ball. But I'm not sold on his ability to defend in the half court. At 36, I don't think his foot speed is where it needs to be to keep up with most lead guards. And he can beaten on a back-to-the-basket move.

For what it's worth, both Felton and Prigioni have equal plus/minus ratings (-1). That stat doesn't mean much to me this early in the season. But it's interesting the Knicks allow 7.8 more points per 100 possessions when Prigioni is off the court. They give up 6.7 more points per 100 possessions when Felton is off the court. Take that how you will. Though if I'm Woodson, I'd consider starting Prigioni and bringing Felton off the bench. And I'm not completely minimizing Felton's importance here.

The Knicks have plenty of scorers in the second unit, so it's important to have a strong distributor both in the starting five and coming off the bench.


Hey, what's up Sonny? Jeremy is still at least a couple weeks away from taking the court. Remember, he's coming off of surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. So he may not be ready to contribute until early December. The BayHawks play their first game Nov. 22. I'd be surprised if Tyler suits up for the game. Another factor at play with Tyler is this: if the Knicks move Shumpert for a big man, then the need for Tyler could decrease.


Hey, Stefan, if I had to speculate, I think talks will heat up at some point between Denver and the Knicks. I wouldn't be surprised if the two teams end up completing a Faried-for-Shumpert swap. That being said, the Knicks are dangling Shumpert out there and there are plenty of suitors.

According to my colleague Marc Stein, Sacramento is said to be interested in Shumpert. But there doesn't appear to be an obvious match in a player-for-player trade. So the Knicks and Kings would probably have to find a third team to get involved.


An Omer Asik deal would be tough. He counts for $8 million on the books and that's not an easy number to match if you're the Knicks. So the Knicks would need to get a third team involved if they want in on the Asik sale.

Asik or no Asik, I think the Knicks make a move to add a big eventually. It may not even be a big name. It could be a big body to provide insurance until Chandler gets healthy. It's important to remain around .500 until Chandler returns so the Knicks don't have to dig out of a significant hole when they're at full health.


I think publicly Woodson would say he's still trying things out. But I'd be surprised if Woodson takes J.R. out of the starting lineup when the Knicks are at full health. Woodson talked all preseason about having Smith and Shumpert compete for the starting job. And he's made it pretty clear in his comments that he'd like to see J.R. start. With the Knicks (3-5) struggling thus far, Woody can justify starting J.R. as a way to jump-start the offense.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Twitter Mailbag: The return of J.R.

November, 9, 2013
Welcome to our weekly Twitter Mailbag, where I take questions from you all on Twitter and answer them in this space. This week, we discuss the return of J.R. Smith, the ripple effects of the Tyson Chandler injury and more.

Hey Matthew, this is a great question. In a perfect world, I think Woodson would like to play Kenyon Martin against bigger teams and save Amar'e Stoudemire for smaller front lines. This would allow the Knicks to have Kenyon Martin to help rebound and protect the rim against the Chicagos, Brooklyns and Indianas of the league.

But because the Knicks are without Tyson Chandler for an extended period of time, I think Woodson has to use both guys as often as possible, regardless of the opponent.

He was prepared to use both on Friday against Charlotte in the Knicks first game without Chandler. And he will have both available against the Spurs on Sunday. In short, with Tyson out, I don't think Woodson can afford to mix and match with his veteran power forwards.

Hey what's up Laker Fanatic, I don't think you can realistically put the Knicks ahead of Miami or Indiana right now, do you? New York seems to be coming together on offense but with Chandler out, they are not in the same league as the Heat or Pacers on defense.

I'd put them in the second tier of Eastern Conference teams along with Brooklyn. But I think even the most ardent Knicks supporter wouldn't call his/her team a contender right now.

And I don't see them developing into legitimate contenders this season.

I could be wrong, though. Anything can happen as the year progresses, of course. If the Knicks continue to jell on offense and get Chandler back in a timely fashion, and Miami, Chicago, Indiana or Brooklyn suffers a serious injury, I think people could begin to talk about the Knicks as contenders. But that's a long ways away.

Hey Dishin,

I think you might see the Knicks go to a zone with Bargnani at center but I didn't see much of it on Friday in Charlotte. However, I do think it's fair to expect the Knicks to trap the opposing ball handler throughout Chandler's absence. This, of course, can make it more difficult to attack the paint. This is important for the Knicks because once that lead guard gets in the paint, he will have a much easier time scoring or setting up his teammates with Chandler out.

Regarding the zone, I think Woodson may go to it at times to help Bargnani. He seems to be an anti-zone coach but he did use it occasionally last season. I remember a few times in particular against Boston where Woodson went to a zone when Stoudemire shared the floor with Steve Novak.

Hey Verts, I was kind of surprised that the Knicks initially decided to stand pat in the wake of Chandler's injury. I think that they may change course if things don't go well with Bargnani and/or Cole Aldrich or if they can't use K-Mart or STAT as much as they'd like to.

It should be noted, though, that there aren't any free agents out there who will make much of an impact. But bringing in a guy like Earl Barron or Lou Amundson -- provided they are healthy -- could certainly help them against bigger, deeper front lines. But neither guy is going to significantly move the needle for New York.

I know some have reported that James Dolan doesn't want to add anyone because the luxury tax bill associated with another contract is prohibitive. But we're talking about an owner who ate the guaranteed money he gave to C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler. So if there is a player out there who can help the Knicks, I don't think Dolan would decline to sign that player because of the luxury tax.

Hey Dan, I think Tim Hardaway Jr. will be most impacted by J.R.'s return. Hardaway Jr. has played 21 minutes a night through five games. He played 25 and 27 minutes in two games last week. With Smith back in the fold, I don't see how Woodson can play the first-round pick more than 10-15 minutes a night unless he plays Hardaway Jr. or Smith at small forward in a two-point guard lineup.

Another player who could be impacted by Smith's return is Iman Shumpert. Smith will come off the bench on Sunday in his season debut, but I think Woodson will eventually move Smith to be in the starting lineup. This would relegate Shumpert to the bench.

And, obviously, It would be tough for Shumpert to play 31 minutes per night (his current average) while coming off the bench.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Twitter Mailbag: J.R.'s role, Kidd's absence

November, 2, 2013
Welcome to our weekly Twitter Mailbag, where I take questions from you all on Twitter and answer them in this space. This week, we discuss lineups, J.R. Smith's role, the impact of Jason Kidd's absence and more.

Hey Muneeb, coach Mike Woodson said earlier this week that he'd prefer to settle on one lineup eventually. But he's also said that he'd switch based on personnel. So he seems to be giving out a bit of a mixed message.

The guess here is that the Knicks eventually settle on one lineup and that starting lineup will include Metta World Peace.

Since Woodson has hinted that he'd like to go big, I assume that means he won't be starting the Knicks' two-point-guard lineup once he settles on set his rotations.

And I think Andrea Bargnani will end up being more effective in the team's second unit (as long as he's paired with a strong interior defender like Kenyon Martin).

So, based on what I've heard throughout camp and how I see things playing out, I believe Woody will eventually go with World Peace, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the front line.

This would allow Anthony to play power forward, where he was extremely effective last season.

I should, however, mention that Woodson said throughout the preseason that he wanted to play a big lineup but opted to go with a two-point-guard lineup in the season opener. So he could be sending smoke screens through the media.

It's also worth noting that the Knicks were extremely effective when Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni shared the backcourt in the two-point-guard set. They went 15-1 in the regular season with those two manning the guard spots last season. So I think Woodson would be wrong to totally disregard this lineup.

Hey what's up Mazzz? I thought my colleague Ian O'Connor summed Iman Shumpert's importance up well in his column earlier this week. O'Connor thinks -- and I agree -- that if the Knicks want to compete in the improved Eastern Conference, they really need Shumpert to develop into the second-most important player on the team. To do this, Shumpert needs to take a big step forward on offense this year.

He shot the ball well last season, hitting 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. But Woodson would like to see Shumpert improve as the ball handler on the pick-and-roll and in running the Knicks' offense with the ball in his hands.

This is a delicate balance for the third-year guard.

Here's why: While the Knicks would like to see him develop on offense, they still need him to be a lockdown defender. So Shumpert has to find a way to improve on offense while not compromising anything on defense.

Hey Bryan, this is a tough, tough call. But I think ultimately the Knicks will be better off with Shumpert in the starting lineup and Smith coming off the bench. This configuration worked well last season, but that's not why I think it's best for the 2013-14 team.

If the Knicks want to be a top-10 defensive team, which is an important benchmark for outfits that make deep playoff runs, it would behoove them to have Shumpert starting the game against the opponent's top scoring in the backcourt. Smith is a gifted but inconsistent defender. Shumpert is one of the top young perimeter defenders in the NBA.

Also, starting Shumpert in a lineup with World Peace and Chandler gives the Knicks their best chance, I think, to get consistent stops. If Shumpert starts, Smith can be the main offensive focal point in the second unit.

Another reason Smith is best suited to come off the bench? It would help stagger his time on the floor with Anthony's. With both Anthony and Smith on the floor, the Knicks have two players who can create their own shot. And that's not a bad thing.

But if Smith is in the starting lineup, do the Knicks have anyone in the second unit who can consistently create his own look when the offense breaks down?

I think Tim Hardaway Jr. will end up being the odd man out once Smith returns. Hardaway Jr. has impressed the Knicks throughout the preseason and regular season. But once Smith returns, the Knicks will have a logjam in the backcourt. So it could be tough for Hardaway Jr. and, to a lesser extent, Beno Udrih to find minutes.

This will especially be true if Woodson plays with a two-point-guard lineup, Cirino.

Hey Brian, I think it will absolutely be missed.

It's hard to calculate the value of leadership in a locker room, but Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas had a big impact for the Knicks there last season.

So who fills the void this season? That's hard to say. But it's fair to wonder if anyone on the current roster can lead the way Kidd and last year's veterans did. Those are big shoes to fill.

I think Kidd's presence will be missed on the court as well.

New York's offense seemed to bog down into an isolation-heavy attack late in the fourth quarter against Chicago on Thursday. Anthony missed his final five shots, all of which came at least 14 feet from the basket. And you have to wonder if Kidd could have helped move the ball around the perimeter to force the defense to react, which could in turn have created openings.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Twitter Mailbag: D, Tyler and rotation

October, 27, 2013
Welcome to our weekly Twitter Mailbag. I'd like to take questions from you guys on a regular basis via Twitter and answer them in this space. Below, we discuss the team's defensive struggles in the preseason, Jeremy Tyler, the rotation and more.

Hey Taylor, this is a great question. In general, stuff about the Knicks doesn't really worry me. I get worried when my cable company calls me with a bill that's past due or when my mom asks when I'm going to settle down with a nice girl. But I get your point here.

I think you can't help but be worried with what you've seen from the Knicks defense thus far. Remember, the Knicks defense was sub-par for long stretches last season, particularly on the perimeter. As you know, they had a ton of trouble stopping the opposing point guard, which was the genesis of most of their defensive issues. Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni -- the same guys who had a tough time keeping guards out of the paint last season -- are back. Beno Udrih, whose not known as a strong defender, is in the mix. So it's fair to wonder if they'll have the same issues this season.

Of course, a full year with a healthy Iman Shumpert will help. And maybe they end up playing Toure' Murry at some point. He showed in the preseason that he has the potential to be a capable defender.

But you have to wonder about the front line as well. Kenyon Martin may not play 50 games and Andrea Bargnani's Andrea Bargnani. So that will leave Tyson Chandler with plenty to clean up. Maybe Metta World Peace can help as well. But there's only so much those two can do.

That's the $490,180 question, Danny. I say that because that's the amount of money the Knicks will pay Chris Smith if he is on the roster on opening night. New York certainly needs help on the front line, especially given the tenuous health of Amar'e Stoudemire's knees and Kenyon Martin's ankle. So you have to wonder why they didn't keep an extra big man.

Toure' Murry had to be kept. And it makes sense that they held on to seven-footer Cole Aldrich. But I probably would have kept Ike Diogu or Jeremy Tyler over Chris Smith because the Knicks need size. But, as Mike Woodson noted, the fact that Chris is J.R. Smith's younger brother certainly played a role in the Knicks' decision. It also didn't hurt that he is represented by CAA, which works for a multitude of other Knick employees.

If I had to bet, I'd probably put money on Tyler signing with the Knicks. New York was high on Tyler after his strong performance in the summer league. But they needed a healthy big man who could play immediately going into the season due to the injuries to Stoudemire and Martin. So New York couldn't afford to roll the dice and wait on Tyler, who is rehabbing from surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. Mike Woodson said on Friday that Tyler is still several weeks away from taking the court. But if and when he gets healthy, I think the Knicks will re-sign him and cut someone currently the roster.

Here are the guys who I think will see regular minutes: Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin/Amar'e Stoudemire.

That leaves Beno Udrih, Tim Hardaway Jr., Toure' Murry, Cole Aldrich and Chris Smith on the outside.

I think Hardaway Jr. will see the floor, depending on the situation and how similar this year's Knick offense is to last season's. If the Knicks bombard opponents with 3-point attempts, as they did last season, Woodson may be forced to find minutes for Hardaway Jr. The rookie showed during the preseason that he can knock down open -- and contested -- looks on the perimeter.

It will be interesting to see how things play out with Udrih as well. He signed with the Knicks on a below-market deal thinking that he'd be part of a three-point guard rotation. But he may end up splitting minutes with Prigioni as Raymond Felton's backup. But if Woodson elects to play with the two-point guard look that he relied on late last season, Udrih could serve as the backup and play more minutes.

Hey Verts, I think he's committed to starting a traditional lineup on opening night. And I think he wants badly to start J.R. Smith over Iman Shumpert once Smith is healthy. I also think he won't shy away from inserting World Peace into the starting lineup and moving Bargnani to the second unit if the Bargnani-Anthony-Chandler front line doesn't work out.

The wild card is how Woodson will use the two-point guard lineup that worked so well last season. It's a bit puzzling to me that he'd shy away from using this lineup and playing Anthony at power forward. Both configurations worked extremely well last year. My guess is Woody will play the two-point guard lineup more than he's letting on at this point. I also think Anthony will end up spending a significant amount of time at power forward.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Twitter Mailbag: D, X factor and SGs

October, 19, 2013
This is the first installment of our Twitter Mailbag. I'd like to take questions from you guys on a regular basis on Twitter and answer them in this space. Below, we discuss the team's defense, the X factor this season and the battle for starting shooting guard.

Hey Mr. Vertsberger. Last season, I'd say it was 60 percent personnel, 40 percent schemes. I say that because in the final 24 games of the 2011-12 regular season, the Knicks were a top-10 defense. So in that stretch, Woodson's defensive schemes seemed to be working.

Last season, the Knicks struggled to defend the pick-and-roll and to stop opposing point guards, which was the genesis of most of their defensive issues.

Could Woodson have adapted better to cut off the penetration and sure up the pick-and-roll defense? Sure.

The Knicks switched often on screens and double-teamed in the post, which seemed to lead to too many open looks for the opponent.

But Woodson can't control the foot speed of Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd. If the Knicks had a quicker, more capable perimeter defender, that could help limit the penetration and help control the pick-and-rolls. Maybe having Iman Shumpert for a full season will help?

Hey, Jefe. I could go with Shumpert's offensive development or Andrea Bargnani's ability to fit in to the Knicks' offense. But I think the other side of the ball is more important to the Knicks' success.

New York needs to figure out how to get stops on a consistent basis this season. The Knicks were 18th in the league in defensive efficiency last season. Woodson cites injuries as part of the problem, but as discussed above, there were schematic issues as well.

Woodson's goal for the Knicks is to finish in the top 10 in defense. That seems lofty. But I think their ability to defend -- particularly on the perimeter -- is the biggest X factor coming into the year.

Hey, Austin. They'd like to start negotiating with him in February but Anthony has said he'd like to test free agency this summer. So unless Anthony changes his mind, he won't sign a deal in February. If he did, he'd only be able to sign an extension that added two years to his current contract. If he signs in the summer, he'll be able to ink a five-year deal.

Hard to say at this point. First off, you have to wonder if Amar'e's knees will allow him to even finish his contract. I think the Knicks would like to trade him before his deal is up in 2014-15, though that will be difficult to do. If they can deal him before his contract ends, I doubt he'd re-sign with New York. But, in all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if he retires when his contract is up.

As a competitor, I'm sure he would be upset. But I don't think Shumpert would let that affect his play or his approach to the game. He has said repeatedly he doesn't care if he starts or comes off the bench, as long as the Knicks win. I will take him at his word there.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.



Carmelo Anthony
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2