Thursday, August 28, 2014


Recently, New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert expressed his optimism about the triangle offense which will become the Knicks new offensive system in the upcoming season. Recent hires, president of basketball operations Phil Jackson (it feels so weird, yet so cool at the same time to say that) and coach Derek Fisher are expected to employ the tenets of the triangle offense to a Knicks team that ran an isolation-heavy offense last year, and Shumpert expects to provide a different measure of production this year. Shumpert believes that he, as well as other members of the Knicks roster, will be able to contribute a bit more, and showcase the skills that one cannot show when he is asked to be one-dimensional and rather predictable. And he's right. The triangle should allow him to put the ball on the floor more, cut and drive, and more importantly move without the basketball into positions that should allow him to be put into more effective spots on the basketball court, as opposed to the singular approach to the game he was required to execute as he watched Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith dribble the clock down before deciding to shoot or pass to "the corner"for the conventional baseline three. 

Not that he was not adept at the shot (which he was), but Shumpert can provide so much more. A solid to spectacular on-ball defender, he has showed flashes of brilliance on the offensive end from time to time since he was drafted unceremoniously by the great Donnie Walsh, the general manager at the time for the Knicks, who has always had an eye for talent. He has come up big before in games that matter. Game 6 of the 2013 playoffs comes to mind. Although the Knicks would lose an elimination game to a much more determined Indiana Pacers squad, Shumpert would provide the only shot-making help for Anthony on that night, scoring 19 points, hitting 5 threes on the night during critical junctures in the game. As mentioned, even though the Knicks lost he showed glimpses of the player that he can become when given the opportunity and the confidence. The recently departed Mike Woodson,as good a coach as he could be for the Knicks last season, actually may have undermined Shumpert in both departments allowing for his lack of opportunity by running the offense that he did, and by his constant line-up juggling, due to injury at times, but mainly because he may or may not have trusted Shumpert completely (which ultimately led to Shumpert's lack of confidence in his role on the team). Granted Shumpert is now two years removed from an ACL injury which usually requires two years before a player mentally can trust the newly sound joints, so some of the responsibility may not rest squarely a Woodson's feet.

All of this said, can Iman Shumpert actually (and finally) have the breakout year that Knicks fans have expected of him since it became apparent that not only is a great defender, but a dynamic athlete,with a propensity for tough shot-taking and tough shot-making as well? Could the triangle offense, combined with the new-found confidence in his body and his role under the stewardship of coach Derek Fisher (who I might add himself was a great on-ball defender and clutch shooter) lead to a stellar campaign for Shumpert and the Knicks? There is only one way to find out, as this upcoming season holds all the answers.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It Was All Good Just A Year Ago...

When Glen Grunwald was unceremoniously relieved of his duties as general manager of the New York Knicks prior to the recently concluded 2013-2014 NBA season it signaled an end to the brief period of composure and consistency, hardly synonymous with Madison Square Garden, which had begun to permeate throughout the organization up until that point. The move came and went, largely unannounced by NBA insiders and hardly recognized by casual observers, but it would serve as a harbinger for the Knicks disastrous 2013-2014 campaign, signaling to the aforementioned observers of the Knicks, and the NBA at large, that all was still not well at Madison Square Garden. James Dolan was still in charge.

Fast-forward to the present. Derek Fisher, the former Los Angeles Laker (amongst other teams he has played for), has been recently installed as the head coach of the Knicks. The third hire of such a kind in the last three years, he has been on the job for all of less than two weeks. It has taken him less time than that to assess the situation at hand as it pertains to the current roster he has been given, as well as Carmelo Anthony's impending free agency. [As of this writing reports are that Anthony has indeed been true to his word of opting of his current Knicks deal (as is his right) a few hours early of the intended June 24th date he had given the media and Knicks front office.]

Fisher believes his team can win, and now. And why not? This is a Knicks team that won 54 games just a season before this season's 37 win debacle. Plagued by injuries to key players, player suspensions, and general dissent and apathy amongst the troops, the Knicks did their best to underwhelm the same city they had overwhelmed last year with thoughts of a title pursuit. So which team really is the Knicks team? That's hard to say depending on who you ask. If you ask Fisher he will say yes. 

Contingent and dependent upon the place where Anthony will sign in free-agency, a lion's share of what Fisher believes is tied into the fate that is the destination of that signature. A player of Anthony's stature is considered to be the building block of any organization. A team with championship aspirations would be fortunate to have him on their roster. Fisher knows this. He also knows that Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Raymond Felton (yes even Felton) are all better than the record they produced last year. Yes it true that you are what you record says you are. The great Bill Parcells was unwavering on that issue. The Knicks are the team that produced 37 wins last year. At the same time they know that they are also the team that won way more than that the year before; the year in which there was as much stability and veteran leadership as there was talent and athleticism. That year there was a veteran point guard who helped to spearhead a great start to that 54 win season. A veteran point guard turned coach who was able to turn around a moribund New York City-area basketball team the same way that the Knicks hope their veteran point guard coach can do for their New York City-area basketball team. 

Jason Kidd was that player and that coach and now Derek Fisher finds himself in the same position. Fisher feels that he will have the same impact on this roster that Kidd had on the Knicks a season ago and with the Nets this season, and who's to doubt him? He knows what impact good communication, a respect for authority, and a willingness to buy into the same ideals as a team will bring. He has seen it. He has been it. Regardless of whether or not Carmelo Anthony re-signs with the Knicks Fisher knows and believes that this is a roster built to win when it is clicking on all cylinders. Now that he has been handed the keys, let's just see what a little body work and under-the-hood repairs will accomplish. You don't need two weeks, let alone a year, to figure that out.

Friday, April 4, 2014


You could make an argument for each team in the FINAL FOUR, but here's my take: Wisconsin, Florida, and Kentucky all had tough leagues to play in. Not to say UConn didn't, but out of all the four teams left, no one expected them to be there. Florida went undefeated in the SEC during the regular season. I say they finally lose to an SEC team when the play Kentucky for the NCAA Championship. Kentucky will win it all and John Calipari will move to the front of the line of championship-winning college coaches who use gel to slick their hair like Billy Donovan and Rick Pitino.