1.) Knicks fans are excited about their chances for the playoffs. Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Playoffs?
The Knicks can sole position of the 8th seed tonight with a Bucks and Nets loss. The Knicks are 7-3 in thier last 10 games and are somehow 3rd in the Atlantic. They are playing some pretty good ball right now, but playoffs?
Not so fast, my friends. John Hollinger's simulations of the season from this point on show the Knicks have the 4th best chance to get in the playoffs of the 5 teams going for the 8th seed. Toronto is considered the favorite, with Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Indiana ahead of the Knicks, and only Chicago behind the Knicks.
2.) But what if the Knicks add at the deadline?
It could happen, but it would be because of a fortunate subtraction, not addition to help the Knicks win first and foremost. David Lee and Nate Robinson are expiring, and the Knicks will be over the cap in 2009. If the Knicks deal either or both, it could lead to a great player joining the fold, but how long would it take them to learn the D'Antoni system? And how long would be too long? One way or another, the Knicks making a move at the deadline has a greater chance to harm the 2008 -2009 playoff chances then it does to increase them.
3.) Can the Knicks maintain this solid play of the last 10 games?
Let me see how simple I can say this. Yes. Danilo has been shockingly efficient by some statistical measures, maybe not all of his own doing, but his rotation unit has been superb and the Knicks look fresher for having him in the mix. Nate Robinson is picking his game up a notch from where it was before his slump to where it is now after the slump is broken. Chris Duhon is about to get a lot of rest during All-Star Weekend (outside that Nate will probably take him with him to Phoenix to throw him some oops). This current Knicks team can stay this good.
4.) Can the Knicks compete with the best in the league?
Ummm, maybe. They have beat the Hornets and the C's. The Knicks next week host the Lakers, Cavs, and Celtics in what has to be a top 3 most brutal 3 game homestand in the NBA during this decade (if not the most brutal). Can the Knicks win 1 of these games? Sure, the Knicks are decent at home, enough you would expect them to have a roughly 1 in 3 chance against any of these teams at the Garden. Do the Knicks need to win 1 of these 3? Well...
5.) How big is Saturday's game against Indiana?
In my opinion, huge. The Knicks will be well rested, having last played Wednesday, and the Pacers have to host the Heat tonight. The Knicks have to get a road win against a team they are competing against for the 8th seed in a favorable spot if they expect to be a serious contender for the playoffs.
6.) What is your assessment of Mike D'Antoni?
A fantastic hire. I could not be more thrilled.
7.) But I hear everyone on the NBA board talk about how the Knicks and D"Antoni don't care about defense. So why is he good?
All I ever hear the Knicks talk about, read the Knicks talking about, and see D'Antoni coaching up is defense. Do you think Jared Jeffries is starting for the Knicks because of his crappy jumpshot that he airballs every other time? This team cares about stops and is learning how to get them.
8.) What do the Knicks have to do better to compete against good teams?
Everything not named teamwork, camaraderie, free throw shooting, and hustle
9.) Care to be more specific?
Rebounding, shot selection, transition defense, being smart with double teams, defensive rotation, and silly turnovers
10.) Who needs to step their game up?
The Knicks are at their best when Tim Thomas is giving the Knicks productive minutes off the bench and Q-Rich gets off to a great start. Q-Rich needs to continue to go down to the blocks where he has been effective over the last two weeks and force teams to respect him, and get assists off the block. Al Harrington needs to be more consistent. Jared Jeffries needs to learn how to play basketball. Nate Robinson needs to use his speed on defense more to stay in front of people and needs to be smarter on rotations. Danilo Gallinari needs to learn how the NBA refs call a game and cut down on his fouls. David Lee needs to shoot more, specifically drive more. He should take 15-17 shots a game, not 12. Wilson Chandler needs to work on shot selection and continue to improve on the defensive end instead of being a guy who looks for blocks and steals.
11.) Who doesn't need to step their game up?
Chris Duhon is giving the Knicks everything he has. Clyde Frazier is doing a great job in the booth. Jerome James is riding the pine like a champion of freedom and justice.
12.) Why wasn't David Lee an All-Star?
The East picked 7 reserves better then Lee, irrespective of record. Lee is getting really good on the offensive end but is still just 35.3% on his jumpers this season and the Knicks pace inflates his stats to some degree. The full package is coming for Lee, but it's not here yet.
13.) How do you know Lee is 35.3% on his jumpers?
I got crazy information finding skills.
That's not a question. Try again.
14.) Will Lee break the Knicks streak of no All-Stars next season?
If Donnie Walsh finds a way to keep Lee and maintain his focus on luring multiple superstars to New York for the 2010 class, it would be a coup and one of the finest jobs by a GM in recent memory. But Lee has made less then 4 million over his 4 years in the league, and could get as much as 8-9 million a season in this offseason, and the Knicks can only afford to sign him to about 5 million. So I don't forsee Lee in the blue and orange next year.
15.) Who could be the Knicks next All-Star?
LeBron James in 2010.
16.) You just did that to piss off all the Cavs fans because you hate them all, didn't you?
I like M1ghty Mouse. But for the most part, yes. It's also true.
17.) Back to this season. Are there reasons to expect a strong finish from some specific Knicks?
Al Harrington and Quentin Richardson are playing with a player option for 2009. With a strong finish to the season, both may opt out and join a light free agent class. The best way for them to get paid is to get some stats and help the Knicks win. Two key cogs in a contract year is a good thing. Nate Robinson is a restricted free agent after this year and is in the same boat. Contract years are always helpful for production. Obviously Lee is a restricted free agent too, but I don't think he has much more he can give night in and night out.
18.) Talk a little more about your boy Wilson Chandler. What do you think of him?
He has rebounded nicely as of late from a slump. He needs to get a little bigger, he struggles from the arc but has a pretty 19 foot jumper. I would like to see him get more aggressive, he has had some highlight reel drives this season but does not do it nearly often enough. His defense is growing but he faces tough matchups very often when defending a 3 and is getting a trial by fire at the defensive end. Overall I am optimistic he can still develop into a 16 ppg scorer by the end of the 2009-2010 season.
19.) All you ever do in your blog is rehash old stuff and then talk possible trades because you are an NBA Trade Machine addict, then pick the Knicks to lose but cover. So what trade do you think Donnie Walsh might make at the deadline?
Nate Robinson for a first rounder and a junk matching expiring contract is my best guess.
20.) Why God why trade 15.5 ppg for a 1st rounder?
Because Nate is not in the Knicks long term plans best I can tell, and the Knicks will need some young players to fill out a roster in 2010 when they tie up a majority of their salary cap in two superstars.
21.) I don't like that trade. What could the Knicks do to help the team?
If the NBA gets to working and decides on the Knicks pending request for a $4.45 million disabled player exemption for Cuttino Mobley, the Knicks could add salary with no problems of matching contracts.
22.) Ok, can you do some master stroke and tie these last few points together and make Knicks fans happy?
Knicks get the disabled player exemption. Knicks trade Nate Robinson for a 1st rounder. Knicks use the exemption to deal the 1st rounder picked up for Mike Conley or or use it in a salary dump and get Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw for Lee and Jeffries and the aforementioned 1st rounder.
23.) What? Why do the Knicks do either of those deals?
That's two questions, so it counts as #24 as well. To answer what?, you heard me. And to answer why?, Conley has an affordable team option in 2010 and would be a nice cheap roster addition for 2010, he adds some NBA experience to the projected 2010 players that aren't superstars and has upside. And the Felton/Diaw for Jeffries/Lee, well D'Antoni loves Diaw for some reason, he's a much better player then Jeffries, and if the Knicks have to eat salary in 2010, they would rather it was a player like Diaw then one like Jeffries. So it's a moderate improvement over the current future of the Knicks, albeit at the cost of Lee, but Lee is going to be a loss at some point, the question is will the Knicks get anything out of him? And Diaw may be tradable in 2009, something that Jeffries is unlikely to be, so he is an easier salary dump.
25.) I'm not convinced. Can you convince me these are good deals for the Knicks?
I'm not convinced this is in the best interest of the Knicks either. But it's not NBA 2k9. You can't make trades you love every time. Sometimes you have to make baby steps and accept the fact that star young players are bolting New York after this season along with a couple good vets if Harrington and Q-Rich opt out.
26.) What is your predicted record for the last 37 games of the season?
27) Will 37-45 make the playoffs?
It's a total toss up to me at this point. Toronto and Indiana I expect will have about 37 wins at the end of the year as well.
28) If the Knicks get in the playoffs, can they win a game?
Yes, as long as you keep it singular. This team doesn't have the players to beat a #1 seed on the road.
29) If the Knicks just miss the playoffs, will they win the lottery?
Not unless I see the big plastic tumbler from 1985 brought back
30) Why did you bother to make up 30 questions and answer them all about a 20-25 team?
BLEED ORANGE AND BLUE!