Chat with Jared Zwerling
Welcome to ESPNNewYork.com! On Wednesday, New York Knicks writer Jared Zwerling stops by to chat about the team.
Zwerling has covered the Knicks for ESPNNewYork since 2010. He is also an NBA contributor to ESPN.com and writes for ESPN High School. Prior to ESPN, Zwerling worked for Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and started his career with the NBA in 2004, upon graduating from New York University.
Send your questions now and join Zwerling Wednesday at noon ET!
Jared Zwerling (11:50 AM)
Hey there! Thanks for stopping by to chat about the Knicks, who last night against the Bobcats had their largest margin of victory in more than two years (33 points). On January 3, 2010, they beat the Pacers by 43 points. I will be answering your questions from 12 to 1 p.m. ET. Stay tuned!
Jared Zwerling (12:08 PM)
Let's start with Baron Davis' return, the most popular topic. Thank you to Andrew (Albany, N.Y.), Lenz (Miami), Shelby (Minnesota) and Brian (N.Y.) for your question. After Monday's scrimmage at the Knicks' training facility -- Davis' first with the team -- Mike D'Antoni said the point guard was "rusty" and even Davis himself said "everything" was off. Davis is a long shot to play tonight in Cleveland. The Knicks' training staff is not going to rush him back, even though he's seen as a quick fix to the team's offensive problems. The shortened season with all of the back-to-backs are factors. As you've seen across the NBA, injuries are occurring at an increased rate. For entertainment value, it would be great to see Davis play against the Heat on Friday in Miami. If you recall last year, a few days after the Carmelo Anthony trade, Chauncey Billups helped lead the Knicks to the victory in South Beach with his clutch 3-point shooting. What a return that would be if Davis was just as effective. But, again, Davis' return tonight is a long shot and you may not see him play until this weekend in Houston or next week at the earliest.
Jared Zwerling (12:16 PM)
I've also gotten a few questions about the Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler for Dwight Howard trade possibility. Thank you to James (New York), Glen (Long Island), Ryan (New Mexico) and Shelby (Minnesota) for your question. There is almost zero chance of this happening. Stoudemire has four years and more than $83 million remaining on his contract. Not to mention, his contact is uninsured because of his previous knee and eye injuries. There is too much risk associated with Stoudemire, who turns 30 this year, for a team to take on. The most reasonable trade scenario is Howard going to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum, plus others. While no one in the league can really replace Howard, Bynum is the closest. He's young (24) and making himself more marketable this season by averaging career-highs of 15.9 points and 13.2 rebounds per game.
Jared Zwerling (12:28 PM)
Probably the third most popular topic is the issue of Mike D'Antoni's current status. Thank you to Andres (London) and Chris Fiegler (Latham, N.Y.) for your question. Will D'Antoni get fired now? No. For starters, he's in the last year of his contract, so expect his departure, if things go really south, at the end of the season. For now, you have to give some credit to D'Antoni for orchestrating a solid defense so far this season. It started against the Celtics in last year's playoffs, and this season they're holding opponents to 95.6 points per game. While the Knicks are off offensively right now, D'Antoni hasn't been able to prove what he can do this season because he doesn't have a point guard. So give it some time. I'm going to wait to pass judgement on D'Antoni and Davis for at least a couple more weeks to see how they jell together. By the way, offensive problems are happening throughout the league. Scoring is down overall. It's not just a Knicks issue. You also have to understand D'Antoni has never coached a frontline like the Knicks have now. The Knicks also have eight new players. It's a shortened season. D'Antoni may not be the best coach for the team in the coming years, but let's see how Davis comes back and how the adjustments continue.
was last nights result because of the bobcats being so bad or the Knicks starting to get it together?
Jared Zwerling (12:39 PM)
It was definitely a combination of both. First of all, the Bobcats were without starting point guard D.J. Augustin and small forward Corey Maggette. Augustin, especially, had previously hurt the Knicks getting into the lane and creating easier shots for his teammates. While the Bobcats are a struggling team, the Knicks did some things that you want to see. The biggest stat that jumps out at me was their 26 assists, compared to the Bobcats' 10. Again, that goes back to Augustin being out, but you have to give credit to the Knicks. Their ball movement had been an issue and Carmelo Anthony really made a statement with his passing, and the whole team for that matter. The Knicks spread the court better and allowed Stoudemire to find lanes to the basket. Speaking of STAT, his intensity was great to see. He had been lacking that lately, especially to start games. He came out very aggressive and attacked. Last year's STAT, with his energy level, has to be consistent. And, of course, there was Tyson Chandler, who had 20 points and 17 rebounds (eight offensive). According to Synergy Sports, his standout two-point per possession performance boosted him to fourth in the NBA in that stat for the season (1.24). He's been a great addition to the team. Winning obviously brings out a sense of fun in the players, and that was missing recently. Hopefully they can ride that momentum on the rest of their three-game road trip.
brian (goldens bridge ny)
Jared what are your thoughts on kenyon martin or ill will coming back to the knicks?
Jared Zwerling (12:45 PM)
Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are highly unlikely. While Martin is an unrestricted free agent, I'm hearing reports that he's not in great shape right now, and with the shortened season, that's a cause for concern. Carmelo Anthony has said he would welcome him back, but the Knicks need stretch fours/3-point shooters to balance out the team's frontline attack. They rank near the bottom of the league in 3-point percentage right now. Chandler would provide that, but he's a restricted free agent and the Nuggets really want him back. I don't see either move happening.
Hi Jared. Do you think the Knicks should consider trading Carmelo to the Spurs for Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson?
Jared Zwerling (12:54 PM)
An interesting thought, especially since Tony Parker was on the Knicks' radar last summer. I could see the trade benefiting the Knicks if the Spurs added one or two more pieces, but the Spurs wouldn't do it because they've built their teams on the concept of team basketball and that players can play both sides of the ball well. When you think about it, the Spurs haven't really had a superstar perimeter scorer who demands so much attention. While Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are All-Stars, they play very well within the framework of the team. Obviously Melo is such a good scorer, but I think he would change the dynamics of the Spurs too much, based on what they've done over the years.
Can the Knicks beat the Sixers or pacers in a 7 game series?
Jared Zwerling (1:01 PM)
Especially with the frontline the Knicks have now, definitely. If Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler can continue to develop chemistry together, they can knock out any team in the first round -- and I envision the Sixers or the Pacers as an early playoff opponent. Not many teams on paper can match up with the Knicks. The biggest question mark is obviously Baron Davis. How will he look come April? Even if he's playing well offensively, I worry a bit about his defense guarding all the younger and talented point guards in the league. Ironically, the Pacers and Sixers have Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday, respectively, who both went to UCLA, where Davis went. These types of players -- not to mention, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo in the East, and Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in the West -- can run circles around the Knicks and cause them a lot of problems. What could happen in the playoffs is that Mike D'Antoni puts Iman Shumpert on these guys for defensive purposes. Overall, outplaying opposing point guards on offense and defense will be the real key for the Knicks to get past the first round and move on.
Jared Zwerling (1:02 PM)
I'll be extending my chat to about 1:30 p.m. ET. A lot of great, insightful questions.
Any truth to the Knicks signing JR Swish when he is done in China?
Jared Zwerling (1:06 PM)
I haven't heard anything leaning towards the Knicks with J.R. Smith lately. Smith is stuck in China until the end of February, but because the NBA trade deadline is March 15th and he's an unrestricted free agent, he could sign with the Knicks at their $2.5 million exception. The Knicks could use a guy like Smith. He's full of energy, which the Knicks lack sometimes, and he can shoot the three ball -- an area where they've been struggling this season. Because Toney Douglas hasn't been himself, the Knicks might look at Smith a bit closer in the coming weeks, but right now there is nothing to report.
Andrew (Albany, NY)
What are your thoughts of having Tyson play out on the wing, allowing Amare to run the pick and roll on given plays. Then have Tyson run in to make any necessary rebounds. I feel like if Tyson had a 3 point shot, this could work. Unfortunately I dont think he does.
Jared Zwerling (1:13 PM)
Tyson will be more effective in the interior in the two- and three-man game with Anthony, Stoudmeire and the point guard. The Knicks have been successful running plays with double screens, one on the point guard and then another for Stoudemire, usually set by Chandler. In fact, the Knicks are near the top of the league in total dunks this season. The team needs Tyson closer to the basket for rebounding and putbacks. Harrellson and Jeffries can play a little further out when D'Antoni goes with a big lineup because of their better shooting ability, but not Chandler, especially because the Knicks signed him for his down-low presence. What's key is spacing in the interior, and Stoudemire said he's still figuring it out with Chandler, but they're getting there. It looked better last night against the Bobcats.
Are the Knicks interested in Boris Diaw?
Jared Zwerling (1:16 PM)
After Diaw torched the Knicks in their first meeting, a 118-110 loss on Jan. 4, why not? D'Antoni speaks very highly of Diaw, one of his former players with the Suns, but will a trade or acquisition happen? No. The Knicks have locked themselves up in the frontcourt, position-wise and financially. Their focus is the guard position. While D'Antoni raves about Diaw, I'm sure he'd love to have Steve Nash back, who's an unrestricted free agent this summer.
jared i feel like im the only one that supports the entire knicks team and dantoni. Defense has improved from last year for sure. the offense is off but dantoni has historically had his team in the top 10 in ppg every year so you no its ganna pick up. Melos field goal percentage is down but hes missing open shots that are going to go down eventually are u seeing the light at the end of the tunnel like me??
Jared Zwerling (1:27 PM)
There have been a lot of things going against the Knicks so far. The preseason hype, injuries, no point guard, a shortened training camp, eight new players, a new coaching direction for the team with the established frontline, etc. The first thing is that the Knicks really need to be careful with Carmelo Anthony's health. After spraining his right ankle and left wrist this season, he had a minor thumb injury last night. He has to be in top-notch shape for the Knicks to compete. Melo said he won't shut it down for a couple of days to get better, so hopefully that doesn't affect his future health. Of course, he and Stoudemire have to continue to develop a chemistry together. But a lot rides on Baron Davis. I spoke to his former personal trainer, Ed Downs, who said Davis is determined to prove the critics wrong. It's great to see Davis back on the court, and hopefully he has no setbacks. He was one of the best point guards in the league a few years ago, and the window for him to play well is still there. This is a weird season to predict anything right now with scoring down across the board, injuries happening at a higher rate, etc., but I do see the Knicks making it to the second round. From there, the better team will be the one that's healthier and clicking better at the right time.
Jared, what are your thoughts on the bench play we saw last night? Specifically, Lin, Novak and Jordan. You say we are near the bottom in 3 pointers, why not give Novak more time? 3-3 for 9 points in 6 minutes. Pretty impressive to me.
Jared Zwerling (1:35 PM)
Well, of course, it was a blowout game. I hardly see Lin playing at all. He was really added as a scrimmage player to face Baron Davis in practice. D'Antoni is really only going about eight, nine players deep at this point. I do like Jordan's size and athleticism, especially to help the Knicks protect the paint. They've been getting beat in that area on the court. Last week, the Bucks had 50 points in the paint, while the Suns had 62. But D'Antoni said he is going to take his time with Jordan's development. But now that outside shooter Harrellson is out, I could see Steve Novak jumping in the game a bit more. The team needs 3-point shooting and Novak was 3-for-3 from downtown last night. Novak's increased playing time won't happen overnight, but D'Antoni might gradually use him. Don't expect too much from Jordan or Lin yet, though.
Why havent the knicks played any type of zone defense? Tyson was an excellent anchor for the Mavs zone D last season. And in a short season, it would give stat and melo (and even baron when he returns) less running to do on the defensive end.
Jared Zwerling (1:40 PM)
A good question, and something that hasn't really been addressed yet by D'Antoni. But from my knowledge, I can tell you that you probably haven't seen too much of it because D'Antoni and Woodson wants the guys to learn how to play real defense first together as a unit, especially because the team is so new. Throwing in zone defense right away is not good for individual and team development. There's the chance for laziness and that can't happen this early in the season, especially since the Knicks are struggling. Plus, D'Antoni is a running coach and he's always preferred for his players to go man on defense so they can quickly have the energy to get out and go. You fall back a bit with the energy level in a zone.
Harrison (Cambridge, MA)
What's the story with STAT? I haven't seen enough games to know for sure but is he already on the decline? Is it a function of the short training camp and compressed schedule? I always assumed that year 5 would be dead money but so far he is making me concerned about years 3 and 4 too.
Jared Zwerling (1:49 PM)
I really liked what I saw from STAT last night. A lot of it boiled down to that energy level, that fire, that intensity -- things that have been missing, but were evident during his MVP-like campaign last season. It was also great to see Stoudemire's heads-up playmaking last night. There was one time where he was about to set the screen for Bibby and then right before he did it, he noticed the open lane to the basket and rolled for the dunk. Stoudemire has been hesitating lately with his shot and attacking the basket, and he's looked out of sync when he makes a move. But last night, he seemed to be much more on top of things. The distribution of the ball against the Bobcats really helped STAT, too. He was able to score most, if not all, of his buckets 15 feet or closer to the basket. This season, he's been taking more attempts from 16 to 23 feet than from 10 to 15 feet. Some of that is due to a lack of a point guard, so Davis should help Stoudemire's game. Physically he looks great, and he says he feels great, and his performance last night proved that. He just needs to bring that mental approach like he did last season.
NICE MUGSHOT! HOW WILL THE KNICKS DEAL WITH THE RESURGENT HEAT - ESP BOSH AND THE BENCH? I KNOW TYSON HANDLED HIM WELL WITH THE MAVS, BUT HE HAD DIRK AND OTHERS AROUND HIM THEN.
Jared Zwerling (2:03 PM)
Last question! This game will be a test for the Knicks to see where they stand heading into February. There is no indication yet that Baron Davis will be back for this game, but even if he did return Friday night in Miami, he would be limited obviously. Lately, the Heat have been playing well without Dwyane Wade, who's been day-to-day with a sprained right ankle. Of course, that's not to say D-Wade is not at all needed. But the Heat still have LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Melo and Amare's defense, especially, will have to be on point. Melo has shown he can be somewhat effective guarding LeBron in their last previous matchups. But Amare's defense is more suspect on opposing talented power forwards. Now that Bosh is having a better season with a stronger low-post game, Amare has to be careful to not let another power forward go off on him. Against the Bobcats on Jan. 4, Amare could not contain Boris Diaw, who went for 27 points that night. That's just one example. Overall, as a team, the Knicks defensive rotations will have to be on point. The Heat can be very dangerous from three with James Jones, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers, especially with LeBron attacking the lanes. Fortunately, if the Heat do get into the paint, the Knicks have Tyson Chandler, who faced the Heat in the 2011 Finals. His down-low defense was very effective, especially from the weakside throwing off LeBron and Wade. His insights from that series should help his squad.