New York Knicks: Tyson Chandler

Melo begins planning while Phil deals

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25

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 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: I'll listen to trade offers for Knicks

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
If any NBA executive is interested in trading for players on the Knicks’ roster, Phil Jackson is willing to listen.

“I don't think it's any secret that everybody that we have on our roster is up for discussion, if we have other teams call us up,” the Knicks president said on Friday. “I mean, we have players that are free agents in Amar’e [Stoudemire], Andrea [Bargnani], Carmelo [Anthony], Tyson [Chandler], guys that are in situations that are not to be discussed. But the roster that we have beyond that is open for discussion. And if people call up, want to talk about it, we'll discuss it with them.”

Jackson mentioned Stoudemire, Bargnani and Chandler because those players are entering the final year of their contracts. The Knicks would like to let those contracts expire in order clear cap space for the summer of 2015. The market for those players may be stronger closer to the trade deadline because any team acquiring Chandler, Bargnani or Stoudemire would be responsible for only the remainder of their salaries, not the full salary.

But If Jackson gets an offer for the players mentioned above, that benefits the team, he probably wouldn’t hesitate to strike a deal.

Jackson said Friday that he would not be opposed to taking on salary this summer –- and impact the Knicks’ cap space for the summer of 2015 –- if he was presented with the right trade.

“It has to be part of a discussion,” Jackson said of taking the Knicks’ cap space in 2015 into consideration while making moves this summer. “But if we get back what we think we need to fill out the character and the type of player that we want to have, we’re going to go forward with it anyway. We’re not the only team that [is] going to be chasing these players [in 2015]. We have to understand that. We might feel that we have one of the best places in the world to play, but people are susceptible to their backgrounds and where they’re from and families, etc. We understand that, chasing free agency, this team has been through it.”

Speaking of free agents, the Knicks, of course, would listen to sign-and-trade offers for Anthony if they have assurances that he has ruled out re-signing with New York.

Jackson has also made it clear in the past that he won't hesitate to shake up the roster this summer, if the right opportunity presents itself. In a speech after the final game of the regular season, Jackson told the players that there will be personnel changes this summer.

“He said that there’s going to be changes, some of us won’t be in this room next year,” said a Knicks player who heard Jackson’s address.

Jackson said on Friday that he hasn’t told any of the Knicks directly that he’s looking to trade them.

According to a league source, the Knicks president told Raymond Felton during exit meetings that he would consider trading him in the offseason.

Jackson denied that on Friday.

“We're telling players, get yourself ready, start a 10 to 12 week program of exercise, weight training, conditioning so when you come back here you're not trying to get in shape in September. You are in shape so you're play in October. That's the message we've given,” Jackson said.

Question: If you were Jackson, which Knicks would you look to trade this summer?

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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:

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.

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
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.

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.

“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.”

Chandler not interested in rebuild?

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
It's been written and reported ad nauseam throughout the season: Phil Jackson and the Knicks plan to use the cap space and first-round draft pick that they'll have in the summer of 2015 to re-shape the roster.

The logical conclusion to that approach is that management views next year as a "throw-away" engagement in a sense, a necessary step toward a 2015 reboot.

One player doesn't sound like he's on board with that plan.

"I definitely don’t want to waste any seasons. I didn’t want to waste this season. I’m not into wasting seasons," veteran center Tyson Chandler said Tuesday.

Chandler was asked about the Knicks' plan to wait next season out and try to contend in 2015.

"I’ll cross that bridge when it gets to that point," he said. "I hope that it’s not that situation."

That certainly doesn't sound like a guy who is 100 percent sold on the rebuilding plan.

Of course, it makes sense that Chandler wouldn't be enamored with the idea of tanking away 2014-15 to get to the following season.

For one, Chandler's contract expires after the 2014-15 season. Secondly, the former NBA champ is 31 and in his 13th season in the league.

"Your time is too short in this league, and I want to win a championship, another one," Chandler said. "I’m not into wasting seasons."

The Knicks have little flexibility this offseason due to money owed to Chandler ($14.5 million), Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million) and Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million).

Jackson may attempt to move one or more of those contracts in a trade this summer or prior to the trade deadline. Or he may simply let them expire at the end of the season to ensure that the Knicks have cap space in the summer of 2015.

Chandler was asked if he wants to be a part of the Knicks' "program" going forward.

"Of course, I’m signed up to be part of this program," he said, adding, "I think the future can definitely be bright. I think we have some positive pieces. We just have to understand how to put them together."

Chandler admitted that the 2013-14 season was his most frustrating in New York.

"The first year I got here, I understood that it was going to be a building situation. I felt like we had the core pieces. It was just a matter of us getting the pieces to go along with that," Chander said. "My second year I thought we’d make strides. Disappointing loss in the playoffs, but still a good season. This year was just unexpected. I did not expect this coming into it. I thought I had a great summer of training. I didn’t expect to break my leg earlier in the year. From there it just spiraled downhill."

Chandler's injury has been cited often by Mike Woodson as one of the reasons for the Knicks downfall.

He missed 20 games with a fractured right fibula. The injury occurred in the third game of the season. The Knicks went 6-15 without Chandler.

"I thought we played good basketball after the All-Star break. But we kind of dug ourselves in a hole that was kind of tough to get out of," Chandler said.

He added that the season "never felt right. We had some bright spots but never where we were on the level that we should have been."

Woody likes Lamar: Mike Woodson likes the idea of the Knicks signing Queens native Lamar Odom but it doesn't sound like he's been kept in the loop on discussions with the ex-Laker.

"I like Lamar. But again, I don’t know much about it, just from what I hear from you guys and what’s been put in the paper, but I think he’s a talent. He could’ve been good for us earlier in the season. I think because he does a lot of things on the floor to help you win basketball games, that’s for sure," Woodson said.

The coach added that the Knicks had discussed bringing Odom in earlier in the season.

“His name came up. But nothing ever materialized," he said.

Woodson is widely expected to be let go by the Knicks in the offseason. He said on Wednesday that he had yet to plan his exit interview with Jackson. He also hasn't talked to Jackson about the season yet.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Opening Tip: Who to fault for this season?

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
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:


Who do you blame for this Knicks season?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,298)

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?
Phil Jackson says he hasn’t talked much about the future with Carmelo Anthony.

But the New York Knicks president certainly talked about the things Anthony can improve upon in the future, particularly from a leadership standpoint. Jackson has already said he wants to keep Melo and it certainly looks like he already has designs on turning Anthony into a better leader.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
AP Photo/Seth WenigCan Phil Jackson point Carmelo Anthony in the right direction?
"Carmelo's really stepped into another level of trying to help players," Jackson said. "One of the things in my conversation [with Anthony] is that he made a critical pass in the Sacramento game down the stretch to Amar'e [Stoudemire] for a dunk.

"He sucked the defense in and made the pass and the play was a two-point ballgame at the time and it really stretched the lead a little bit and gave them an opportunity to win. I think that's one of the things that we see that Carmelo can do and that he's grown as he’s gone along."

Anthony has said that he is open to any changes in his game that Jackson sees fit -- if it will lead to winning a title. Jackson obviously has experience in helping turn prolific scorers such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant into winners and leaders.

He intimated that Anthony can make big strides off the court.

"Those are issues that are not only on the basketball court," Jackson said of where Anthony can improve. "They're off the basketball court, they're in practices, they're in the training room, in the locker room, where players learn to lead and from that standpoint push the team forward with their energy.

"I’ve been fortunate to have coached two of the great ones who have been able to do that in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant," he added. "But there have been other players too. There's not just those players that do that. There are other players that have to be leaders on your team and that’s what we have to assess as we go forward."

Clearly, Anthony is the alpha on this team and Jackson sounds like he is ready to help Melo take that next step as a leader.

Up now: Phil can see Melo feeling the weight of the burden of the Knicks’ crazy season on his shoulders. Jackson also talks about what he has seen in the Knicks so far.

Other notable items from The State of the Zen address.

Tyson Chandler isn’t alone in thinking that the Knicks can make some noise in the playoffs if they make it. Phil joins the bandwagon.

Jackson says his decision-making won’t be influenced by a strong CAA-Knicks relationship.

What’s next: Knicks look to keep it going against Washington at home at 7:30 p.m. today.

Question of day: Does Carmelo need to be a better leader, and how so?

Melo: Knicks control their own destiny

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
NEW YORK -- For at least the next day, the New York Knicks own the eighth spot all to themselves.

The Knicks’ 110-81 blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets combined with Atlanta’s loss to Chicago has Mike Woodson’s team in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by a slim .002 margin in winning percentage.

“It’s funny how things work, that we are in this situation right now having a chance to make the playoffs,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We control our own destiny. I am going to keep on saying that. We can’t worry about what Atlanta is doing or what anybody else is doing. We got to win basketball games.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsIf Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks keep playing like they did against the Nets, they won't be denied a playoff berth.
“If we continue playing the way we’ve been playing, we’ll be there at the end of the season."

Melo is technically wrong about the whole destiny thing but he’s right from the perspective that if the Knicks keep playing the way they did against the Nets, they will make the playoffs in my opinion.

The Knicks (33-43) might be in the eighth spot right now but they aren’t quite in the driver’s seat yet. Atlanta (32-42) currently owns the tiebreaker over the Knicks with a better conference record of 22-22. The Hawks have eight games remaining, all against Eastern Conference foes.

The Knicks are 22-24 in the conference with six games remaining. They finish the season against Washington, at Miami, at Toronto, Chicago, at Brooklyn and Toronto. No other team in the league is facing a team with a winning record in each of its remaining games.

Meanwhile, just three of Atlanta’s remaining games are against teams currently above .500. They play Cleveland, at Indiana, Detroit, Boston, at Brooklyn, Miami, Charlotte and at Milwaukee.

The Knicks have to finish one game better than the Hawks in the standings due to the tiebreaker. But considering how both teams have been playing, Melo’s control-our-own-destiny comment makes sense.

If the Knicks keep playing like this and the Hawks keep playing the way they have, New York does control its own destiny by winning as many games as it can. Atlanta has lost seven of its past eight and it’s hard seeing the Hawks not dropping more games.

The Knicks have won 12 of their past 15 and are playing their best basketball when they need to most. Against the Nets, they came out with exactly the type of urgency, energy and motivation that they need to make the playoffs.

Keep this up and they won’t be denied the playoffs. With no first-round draft pick of their own, the Knicks only have one thing to play for -- the playoffs.

“Everybody would say the schedule is not in our favor,” Anthony said. “There’s nothing we can do about that. We got to go play.”

“Our backs are against the wall right now,” Anthony continued. “We control our own destiny. Sometimes we’ve been real inconsistent as far as coming out with energy and playing. Tonight was a total opposite. Everybody came out focused, locked in and we didn’t look back since the tipoff.”

Anthony was his usual steady self with 23 points and 10 rebounds. But his supporting cast was tremendous.

J.R. Smith played like the explosive sixth man of the year that he was last season, burying six 3-point bombs and scoring 24 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists.

Iman Shumpert set the defensive tone with five steals to go with his 10 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. delivered a gutty 17 points.

If Carmelo keeps getting this kind of help, the Knicks might not just make the playoffs but they could give whomever they face in the playoffs a little more trouble than expected. I'm not saying they can win a series against Indiana or Miami. But do you think the Pacers or Heat rather face the Knicks and an explosive scorer like Melo or an inexperienced team like Atlanta?

An elite scorer like Melo can go off and potentially win one playoff game on his own. Indiana or Miami would certainly want to finish their first-round series as fast as possible.

Tyson Chandler has repeatedly said that he believes the Knicks not only will make the playoffs but that nobody wants to face them if they get in.

“Without a doubt,” Smith said. “Especially on the defensive end, making plays, moving the ball, making shots, we definitely feel that way.”

And that is why Melo believes the Knicks control their own destiny. If they keep playing this way, they have a great chance of getting in no matter if the odds are stacked against them.

“It’s all on us at this point,” Anthony said. “It’s just, we know what we want. ... We should’ve figured this out earlier in the season, but it is what it is right now. We want to get to the postseason.”

And they are playing like they won't be denied.

Rapid Reaction: Suns 102, Knicks 88

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
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.

Rapid Reaction: Knicks 93, 76ers 92

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
That would have been embarrassing.

The Knicks nearly blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead to a hapless Philadelphia 76ers squad that has now lost 23 straight games. Luckily for coach Mike Woodson, New York managed to hold on to win its eighth in a row and keep its faint playoff hopes alive.

Woodson pulled his starters with the Knicks up 17 and 5:13 left, and Philadelphia stormed back with a 16-1 run to pull within two with less than 15 seconds to play.

With a chance to tie, the Sixers turned the ball over. Carmelo Anthony made just one of two free throws, giving Philly another opportunity to tie. Michael Carter-Williams' 3-point attempt went off the glass and bounced out, allowing the Knicks to escape with a win.

New York is three games behind the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks, who lost to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

The Knicks are making a strong push for the postseason, but history is not on their side. According to Elias, only one team in the past 30 seasons has made the playoffs after trailing by four or more games with 14 or fewer games to play.

Not pretty:This game was an NBA eyesore. The Knicks shot 41 percent from the floor and started the game 1-for-16 from deep. The Knicks and 76ers combined to shoot 24 percent from beyond the arc.

Anthony struggled from the floor for much of the night. He finished with 21 points on 5-for-16 shooting. The Knicks' leading scorer missed seven of his first nine shots.

STAT sizzles: Amar'e Stoudemire continued his incredible run on Friday. He led the Knicks with 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. He threw down several thunderous dunks and is bringing an added dimension to the Knicks starting five.

In his past eight games (all as a starter), Stoudemire averaged 17 points per game.

Coming up big: Tyson Chandler was a strong presence on Friday. Chandler had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Cole Aldrich added six rebounds off the bench. The Knicks outscored the Sixers in the paint 42-34.

Shump Shump: Iman Shumpert has looked strong in his new bench role in recent games. On Friday, he had 11 points and knocked down three of six attempts from 3-point range.

What's next: The Knicks will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
NEW YORK -- With 23.2 seconds remaining, the Madison Square Garden crowd stood on its feet to shower the New York Knicks with a hard-earned standing ovation.

As satisfied fans stood around Phil Jackson, the Zen Master remained in his center-court seat but managed to break out a smile as a raucous “Let’s Go Knicks!” chant broke out.

The streaking Knicks didn’t just win their seventh straight game with a stirring 92-86 victory over the Indiana Pacers. They now are starting to believe that they can not only track down the eighth spot in the East but also make noise in the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeAmar'e Stoudemire
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsThe Knicks are a long way from the playoffs despite a seven straight wins.
“That we can accomplish it, and not only that we can accomplish it, but we can do something once we get in,” Tyson Chandler said when asked what the win over the Pacers makes them believe. “I don’t really think a team wants to see us in the first round.”

The Knicks are still a long way from getting into the postseason dance as they trail the Atlanta Hawks (31-35) by four games with just 14 games remaining. But Wednesday night’s win over East-leading Indiana adds legitimacy to their streak and shows how good they are playing.

If the Knicks can keep this up, they could potentially build a double-digit winning streak. The Knicks next play at the Philadelphia 76ers, who are streaking in the other direction with 22 straight losses. After that, the Knicks play the Cleveland Cavaliers (26-42) at home on Sunday. Cleveland is without the injured Kyrie Irving.

The Knicks then embark on a five-game West Coast swing that could make or break their postseason hopes. They face the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz on the road trip.

April doesn’t bring any relief for the Knicks. Their last seven games of the season are against Eastern Conference playoff contenders. They play the Brooklyn Nets twice, Toronto Raptors twice, visit the Miami Heat and play the Washington Wizards. With exception to Miami, all those teams will be jockeying for playoff positioning so they will likely have something to play for.

But the Knicks now know what they are capable of when they play defense and play with grit and determination. They held Paul George to 4-of-17 shooting and 17 points. They forced the Pacers’ starters into 11 turnovers and perhaps more impressive was the fact that they did not back down against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.

Amar’e Stoudemire was a factor inside. He scored 21 points against Indiana and now has scored in double-figures in his past eight games, averaging 16.9 points.

“Amar’e has been playing at a very high level,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We’ve been feeding off of that. You can see at times we’re going at him. We’re riding that horse.”

Anthony put on an offensive show for Jackson with 34 points. He scored on an array of isolation moves, even posting up George before executing a spin-and-dunk move that would have impressed Michael Jordan.

Something that might’ve caught Jackson’s eye more than that though was Anthony’s assists. Four of his five dimes came in the final 13:32, each one of them a big assist. One came on a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer with 1:32 left in the third and then another came at the end of the quarter when he threw a pass downcourt to a streaking Prigioni for a basket that came off a goaltending call to give the Knicks a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

With 9:22 left in the fourth, Anthony found Iman Shumpert for a 3-pointer after Indiana got within two.

“I think Iman’s 3 was probably the biggest shot of the night,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “Melo had nowhere to go.”

Anthony’s final assist came with 1:02 left when he found Raymond Felton for a 15-footer that pushed the Knicks up 88-80. Felton would steal the ball from David West and Anthony was fouled with 23.2 seconds left.

The Garden then showed its appreciation. The Zen Master smiled. And the Knicks’ belief soared to new heights after what could be their biggest win of the season.

Who knows? Perhaps Atlanta or even Charlotte (33-36) slip into a funk and the Knicks keep playing like this and see Indiana again in a seven-game series.

Anything can happen. Just look at the Knicks, who not that long ago lost seven straight games.

“The teams that we play, we feel like they’re in our way,” Anthony said. “That’s our motto right now: 'They’re in our way.' We don’t want to let nothing stop that.”

JVG: Blame it on the roster

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
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.”
NEW YORK -- A disgusted Carmelo Anthony slapped at the basketball, sending it bouncing high as he walked up the Garden floor following another Warriors hustle play that resulted in a basket.

This was near the end of the first half when the Knicks would walk into halftime down 73-52. By the middle of the fourth quarter, Tyson Chandler could no longer hold in his frustration as Mount Chandler erupted. The Knicks' center pushed and shoved his way to two technical fouls and an ejection in just over two minutes -- maybe the wisest decision any Knick made Friday night.

After all, who wanted to sit and watch the Warriors spank the lifeless Knicks? Certainly not the fed up Garden crowd, which left MSG as if there were an announcement that a deadly virus had spread throughout the building with just under five minutes left in the fourth.

[+] EnlargeAnthony
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony could flee New York at the end of the season.
The Knicks finished the month of February colder than the polar vortex, losing for the 11th time in their last 13 games with a 126-103 loss to the Warriors.

Mike Woodson told the Knicks afterward that they still can make the playoffs, even as they trail the eighth-place Hawks by six games. The Knicks, though, can't even win more than two games in a month anymore.

It's time to wonder if we are watching Melo's final two months as a Knick? Is this Anthony's final 23 games as a Knick? The good thing is Anthony doesn't have to decide his future today. If he did, no one could blame him for sprinting out of New York as fast as fans fled the Garden on Friday night.

"It's frustrating, regardless of the level or not," Anthony said of where his frustration level is at right now. "It's definitely frustrating. Just the games, how we're losing the games.

"I keep saying we've got to figure it out, figure it out, but it's time now where we should have it down pat right now. "We shouldn't be in this position."

The Knicks certainly weren't in any position to play defense against Golden State. Mark Jackson's shooters were wide open all night. Stephen Curry made Ice Cube proud, literally messing around and getting a triple-double (27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds) in less than three quarters.

"It's not a mental thing, it's a heart thing," J.R. Smith said of the Knicks' woes. "You're gonna let people score, what, 40-50 points in the paint, over and over again, we ain't gonna win.

"Guys get open shots, walking through the lane, run around, slapping high-fives, laughing, joking. You gotta play with effort, play with heart. I mean, I'm not condoning knocking somebody down and hurting nobody. But we gotta do something. We gotta stick up for ourselves. We're just letting people do what they want to do."

Unfortunately for Smith, the Knicks could get a heart transplant and it probably wouldn't make much of a difference. This is who they are. We're nearly 60 games into the season and they're fading in an awfully bad Eastern Conference. Key players around Anthony have gotten worse since last season.

Look at Chandler, one of the team's respected leaders. He couldn't bear to stand on the court a minute longer.

"It was just me being frustrated with everything that's been going on," Chandler said of his ejection for getting into it with the Warriors' Marreese Speights twice. "It had little to do with [Speights] and more to do with the season."

If Chandler is this frustrated, imagine what Melo is feeling? He pours everything he has every single night and it doesn't matter. He can score 44, as he did twice in February, and they'll still lose. He had 23 and 16 against Golden State despite a throbbing shooting hand and the Knicks still got drilled. The Knicks are supposed to be fighting for a playoff spot, fighting to keep Melo and give him a reason to stay. Instead they keep laying down.

Nobody would blame Anthony if he stole a page out of Stephon Marbury's book and wrote "All Alone" on his Jordan Melo sneakers. Of course, Anthony simply has too much class to do that.

But the frustration is building. If Melo thought he was in a dark place back in late November, he must feel as if he has been thrown into isolation in a dark room for all of February.

And right now, the only end to that frustration seems to be April 16 when the Knicks' regular season ends.

Playoff push? If anything, these final 23 games feel more like a death march toward Melo's free agency decision.

Much can change between now and July 1. Anthony will have plenty of time to cool off and the Knicks will have time to come up with some kind of plan to convince him that New York is the place where he should be.

But right now, Knicks fans might have only one reason why to keep subjecting themselves to this kind of punishment -- in the case that this is indeed Melo's final season as a Knick, they should cherish every minute he has left.

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 107, Knicks 98

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
ATLANTA -- One night after banking one of the worst losses of the season in Orlando, Fla., the Knicks lost their grip on a very winnable game when the Atlanta Hawks rallied from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit to send New York home with a 107-98 loss that saddled the Knicks with a 1-3 road trip.

Carmelo Anthony was his usual brilliant offensive self with 35 points -- although he managed seven in the fateful 39-25 fourth quarter -- and Tyson Chandler added a season-high 23 rebounds to go with 10 points.

New York, though, vanished on defense as the free-falling Hawks put together a 20-2 run over the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to take control for good and end an eight-game losing streak.

The hero?

Atlanta second-year forward Mike Scott, who scored a career-high 30 off the bench. He didn’t start even though Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap was out with a right-knee contusion, and Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer went with a small lineup that featured small forward DeMarre Carroll opening in the power spot.

Atlanta made 16 of 31 3-pointers.

What it means: The Knicks and Hawks split their four-game season series. More importantly, New York fell another game behind Atlanta in the race for the final playoff spot in the East. The Hawks (26-29) lead the Detroit Pistons (23-32), Cleveland Cavaliers (22-34) and then the Knicks (21-35) by 5½ games.

The way it turned: The Hawks scored on seven straight possessions wrapped around the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, including six straight 3-point shots. The first two came at the end of the third quarter to jump-start Atlanta’s 20-2 burst.

A most excellent timeout: As soon as Scott threw down an alley-oop on a pass from reserve guard Louis Williams early in the second quarter, Knicks coach Mike Woodson called timeout. With 9:35 left in the period, that fast break gave Atlanta a 33-23 lead after the Hawks had scored the first nine points of the period.

All the Knicks did from there was close the second quarter on a 29-6 run for a 52-39 halftime lead.

Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire each scored eight points in the period, and Chandler added eight points and six rebounds.

Keep calm and move along: Things got a bit frosty with 5:47 left in the third quarter when Anthony, Woodson and Carroll all drew technical fouls at a stop in play. It was not immediately clear what all of the fuss was about, but Anthony clearly was chirping aloud about something just moments earlier.

Only one free throw was taken, and Atlanta’s Kyle Korver made it to shrink the New York lead to 63-49.

What's next: After wrapping up a four-game road trip, the Knicks return home -- briefly -- for a Monday game against the Dallas Mavericks. They’ll play Thursday at Miami to kick off a stretch during which four of five games will be on the road. Hopefully, general manager Steve Mills will come up with another player or two, and quick.

What a Melo paycut would mean for Knicks

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
Carmelo Anthony is willing to take a pay cut to stay with the Knicks. Here's a quick look at what that means for the franchise, and for Anthony.

Won't help in 2014: No matter how much money Anthony leaves on the table, the Knicks will likely be over the cap in 2014.

If both Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani remain on the roster (as expected), the Knicks' payroll would be over the projected salary-cap line of $62.9 million, even without Carmelo, as Justin Page from ESPN Stats & Info notes here in a great breakdown of the implications of Anthony’s free agency.

So if Anthony agrees to take less money to re-sign with the Knicks this summer, it will save owner James Dolan money on his luxury-tax bill only. The only way that will change is if Knicks president/GM Steve Mills swings a major trade to send Stoudemire, Bargnani or Tyson Chandler to another city.

Looms large for 2015: Anthony's pay cut would have a greater impact in the summer of 2015. That summer, the Knicks are expected to be heavy players in free agency because the current deals for Bargnani, Stoudemire and Chandler come off the books.

If Anthony signs a max deal, his salary in the 2015-16 season will be $24,142,789, and the Knicks would have five players under contract at a total salary of $39,492,533. They'd also have a first-round pick.

This assumes that both J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton pick up their respective player options for 2015-16. It also assumes that the Knicks offer Iman Shumpert a qualifying offer, he accepts and the Knicks don't pick up the team option on Pablo Prigioni's contract.

If that's the case, then Anthony's pay cut would pay dividends in that summer. It would give the Knicks more flexibility to pursue max free agents such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo and should leave them with room to add other players on the market.

No sure thing that he re-signs: Anthony said that his "first priority" is to re-sign with the Knicks this summer, but he also made it clear he needs the Knicks to produce a clear plan that will lead to a title. He's said several times that winning an NBA championship is his top priority.

So it's on Mills and the rest of the Knicks front office to convince Anthony they can build a championship-caliber team around him.

If not?

"If that's not the plan that they have, then we've got to talk about something else," Anthony told reporters in New Orleans.

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