Are Knicks fans riding with Melo?

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
12:00
PM ET
Carmelo AnthonyIan Begley/ESPNCarmelo Anthony's presence is larger than life on the New York City subway's "S" trains.
NEW YORK -- Back in July, he could have ended up with the Houston Rockets, teaming with James Harden and Dwight Howard to form the NBA’s latest "big three.” Or he could have signed with the Chicago Bulls, adding some star power to a ready-made title contender.

Instead, Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the New York Knicks.

With the Knicks 28 games under .500 and tied for last place in the Eastern Conference, that decision looks a bit cockeyed now.

But Carmelo had his reasons back then.

New York, of course, offered more money and long-term financial security than the other suitors. It also gave Anthony a chance to chase a title under Phil Jackson, one the greatest winners in league history.

But another, under-the-radar factor in Anthony’s decision can be found about 20 feet underground in midtown Manhattan these days.

An image of Anthony holding a basketball, ready to shoot, is plastered on the side of the “S” Train in New York City, a subway train that carries passengers between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal. It’s part of an ad campaign to promote the All-Star Game in New York City. And it’s the kind of opportunity Anthony was looking for when he signed a five-year, $124 million deal with the Knicks: to be the face of one of the biggest franchises in the NBA.

“I want to stay and build here with this city,” he said on the day he announced his return to New York.

Of course, not much has gone right for Anthony or the Knicks since that day in mid-July.

The Knicks have suffered through losing streaks of 10 and 16 games this season and are on pace to finish the year with the most losses in franchise history.

“I never expected this,” Anthony said recently.

Neither did Chris Hill. Hill, an NYU student and Knicks fan, is reminded of that on a recent morning as he rides the “S” Train, standing next to Anthony’s ad.

“A lot has gone on with injuries and trades and it’s been unfortunate,” Hill said.

Some New Yorkers may want to blame Anthony for everything that ails the Knicks, but Hill doesn’t fall into that camp.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
ian Begley/ESPNRiders of the "S" train also get to see Carmelo Anthony inside the subway car as well.
“All the pressure is on him, and that’s not fair,” he said. “He’s in a situation where he’s on an island. He has no one to pass to. It’s like Melo is our front man, but who’s helping him? New York puts a lot of pressure on you, but it’s not all his fault.”

Anthony, for the most part, has handled the pressure New York has thrown at him. He hasn’t been in trouble off the court and has mostly accepted the criticism thrown his way for the Knicks’ failures.

“A lot of times I’ll take the blame,” he said recently. “I accept that.”

There has been plenty of blame to go around.

New York, after all, has won just one playoff series since Anthony arrived in a three-team trade in 2011. The Knicks are a combined 150-154 (134-127 when he plays) in the regular season since Anthony’s arrival.

So he may be able to deliver you from Times Square to Grand Central on the “S” train these days, but Melo hasn’t delivered much else to a Knicks fan base starving for a winner.

“I don’t know if you can build a championship team around him,” Lou, an “S” train rider from Brooklyn who only wished his first name be used, said on a recent morning. “I don’t know if he’s that type of player. He doesn’t make anyone better. That’s what great players do.”

This is a familiar refrain among some Knicks fans. Anthony has been out of the first round of the playoffs just twice in his 12-year career.

“If he’s such a great player, why hasn’t he been to the Finals?” Lou says. “He’s a great scorer, but that’s it.”

This is a perception Anthony will have to fight for the rest of his career. The only thing that will truly change it is if Anthony wins a title in New York.

And that’s not happening this season.

For now, the biggest accolade Anthony has to look forward to is starting for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony will be the only representative from either New York team at the game on Feb. 15.

Just call New York the Lone All-Star State.

“It’s really been terrible to watch -- both teams, the Knicks and Nets. But this is the worst Knicks team I’ve ever seen,” Hunter, a 58-year-old Knicks fan from Manhattan, who declined to give his full name, said sitting under Anthony’s ad on the “S” train last week.

Hunter, like most Knicks fans of a certain age, remembers the glory years in New York -- the 1969-70 and 1972-73 title-winning teams.

“Those teams were amazing, my best memories as a Knicks fan. This one is terrible,” Hunter said. “I thought they would be much better with this roster, with Melo back. I don’t know if it’s the players or the coach but they have been a huge disappointment.”

Hunter looks at Anthony’s ad on the “S” train and can’t help but smile.

“I guess they had to have at least one player from New York in the game, right? But I’d rather see him in the playoffs than the All-Star Game.”

Most players would trade an All-Star appearance for a shot at the title. Anthony is probably no different in this regard.

But, make no mistake, playing in the All-Star Game is important to Anthony.

He has been playing through soreness in his injured left knee for much of the season. He said he will eventually need surgery to repair the injury. But he has held off on going under the knife, in part, to be on the Garden floor for the All-Star Game.

“I still get excited for these moments,” Anthony said last week. “It’s a blessing to be able to represent New York here. I never thought I would be in the All-Star Game here in New York.”

But, as with most things that involve Melo in New York, this appearance isn’t without controversy.

Some, such as TNT analyst Reggie Miller, have criticized Anthony for seemingly prioritizing an All-Star appearance over his long-term health and the well-being of the Knicks.

And that’s the rub with Anthony from the media’s perspective.

He’s one of the best scorers on the planet, but doesn’t have the ring that would cement his legacy.

So, 12 years into his career, some wonder if this is just who Melo is.

Is he a guy content to be plastered on ads on subway cars and billboards in Manhattan -- the face of a bad franchise? Or is he driven for more?

Of course, only Anthony himself can answer that question.

Stay tuned, New York.

Leading development in Melo's Knicks role

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
1:36
AM ET
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks have won four of five, and some people are confused.

Are they tanking for a top pick in June’s draft?

Are they trying to make a run at the 8th seed in the East?

(You can stop laughing now.)

We’ll get answers to those questions in the coming weeks and months.

For now, a more pertinent question is this: are we watching Carmelo Anthony develop into a leader?

According to Derek Fisher, that’s exactly what’s happening.

“I think Carmelo is continuing to find out more and more how capable he really is. Not just statistically leading his team, but emotionally, psychologically, guys are following him,” Fisher said after the Knicks won for the fourth time in five games with a 100-92 win.

Anthony sat out for two weeks earlier this month to rest his injured left knee. Since his return, the Knicks have won four of the five games he’s played in.

During his absence, New York lost six in a row amid a 16-game losing streak.

“He’s setting a tone out there,” Fisher said of Anthony. “He’s playing defense. He’s doing a lot of things that are forcing guys to get to his level.”

If Fisher’s assessment is accurate, this could be a significant development for the Knicks.

In the past, Carmelo has at times been at his best when surrounded by veteran leadership (Chauncey Billups in Detroit and in his first season in New York; Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby with the 2012-13 Knicks).

But now that Anthony is under contract for five more years, it’s logical for the Knicks to turn to him to lead in the locker room.

J.R. Smith recently made an interesting observation about Anthony’s leadership style when compared to that of LeBron James.

“[Anthony] is more of an ‘I’ll show you,’ as opposed to Bron is more of an ‘I’ll tell you, then I’ll show you,” Smith told reporters in Cleveland.

Anthony has talked about his approach to leadership in the past.

“For me, it’s letting everyone know what the deal is," Anthony said in October 2013. “If I see something that’s wrong, I try to correct it as a unit. If I see something right, I give a pat on the back and keep moving.”

Knicks to sign Thomas for rest of season: The Knicks will sign Lance Thomas to a contact for the rest of the season, league sources told ESPN New York.

Thomas, who was on his second 10-day contract, had 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in the Knicks’ win over Oklahoma City.

He’s scored in double figures in three straight games.

After the game, Fisher said it was “very important” for the team to re-sign Thomas and Lou Amundson. Amundson’s second 10-day contract is set to expire Thursday.

The Knicks have to either sign him for the rest of the season or let him test free agency.

Hardaway Jr. motivated by slight: Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14 second-half points to help the Knicks hold off Russell Westbrook (40 points) and earn a win over the Thunder.

Afterward, Hardaway Jr. was asked if he was motivated by being left out of the Rookie-Sophomore Game this season. Hardaway Jr. played in the game last season.

“It’s obviously motivation but you have to just go out there and compete,” Hardaway Jr. said. “I think the assistant coaches or whatever they pick the team so it is what it is and I’m going to keep playing the game I play.”

The format for the Rookie-Sophomore game is new this season. It is a team of American players in their first and second seasons against International players.

Assistant coaches voted on the teams.

Galloway reminds Melo a little of 'Linsanity'

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
12:46
AM ET
video
NEW YORK –- In a short amount of time, Langston Galloway has made quite an impression for an undrafted rookie.

In fact, Galloway’s confidence and ability to step up in some big moments reminds Carmelo Anthony of another undrafted New York Knicks point guard who created a worldwide stir a few seasons ago.

When asked if he has seen another rookie as fearless as Galloway in taking big shots, Anthony mentioned the “L” word –- “Linsanity.”

[+] EnlargeGalloway
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsKnicks rookie Langston Galloway had 18 points in the win over the Thunder.
“I don’t know man, I would say probably ‘Linsanity,’” Anthony said. “[Jeremy Lin] wasn’t a rookie but he was here and he had that mindset of taking the big shot when he first got here.

"I don’t like to compare anything, but Langston’s mindset of being willing to take that big shot, take the open shot, just having the opportunity out there, I think Langston loves those moments.”

Galloway may not become the overnight sensation that Lin became when he captivated many with a magical 35-game run with the Knicks in 2011-12. But during this dark and dismal season, Galloway has become a rare bright spot for the 9-37 Knicks.

The Knicks have played their best basketball of the season with help from Galloway, who scored 18 points and had four assists, four rebounds and three steals in a 100-92 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

Galloway, who agreed to terms with the Knicks this week for the remainder of this season and the 2015-16 season, has played a pivotal role in helping the Knicks win four of their past five games.

During that five-game stretch, Galloway is averaging 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Coach Derek Fisher has played Galloway an average of 33 minutes in those five games.

“He is not fearful of any moment,” Fisher said of Galloway. “When he is out there on the floor, he trusts himself. He plays with a confident toughness that has been really good for our group. And the guys enjoy having him around because of who he is as a young man, his character and how he’s built.

“And it is easy for teammates to want to be on the floor and support a guy like Langston,” Fisher continued. “Those are the type of guys we want to have around here as we build this thing out and that is why we got done what we got done yesterday [in signing him to a contract] and we are happy to have him.”

The St. Joe’s product has seemingly come out of nowhere. He played on the Knicks’ summer league team before being in their camp. He played earlier this season on the Knicks’ D-League team in Westchester before being signed to two 10-day contracts.

Fisher has credited hungry 10-day guys like Galloway, Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas with helping change the team’s mentality on the court.

While the Thunder played without Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook tried to carry Oklahoma City with 40 points, four assists and four rebounds. The Thunder point guard was a load for Galloway and the Knicks to handle, going to the line 12 times.

But Galloway banked in a big 20-footer with 4:41 remaining after Oklahoma City cut a nine-point deficit to two. Galloway’s basket started a 10-0 run that finished with him assisting Tim Hardaway Jr. on a 3-pointer with 2:35 to go to push the Knicks up 92-80.

“I’m just out there having fun,” Galloway said. “Just trying to play ball and learn from these experiences.”

Galloway has played in only nine games with the Knicks, so he still has a ways to go before “Langstanity” gets rolling. But so far, Galloway reminds at least one Knick of another previously little-known point guard with the ability to hit some big shots.

“Langston can play,” Anthony said. “I don’t think a lot of people know about him. But he can play basketball. Even going back to training camp, early in preseason, we knew he could play basketball.

“He’s great at getting in the paint, he can score the basketball,” Anthony added. “If he don’t have something, he’ll find the open man. That’s what he’s been doing.”

Irving dominates, but Cavs lack continuity

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
12:18
AM ET
ESPN Stats & InformationKyrie Irving was one point shy of tying the Cavaliers' franchise scoring record.
Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 55 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94.

Irving's 55 points are the most in Cavaliers franchise history by a player not named LeBron James, and just one point shy of matching James for the most by a Cavalier.

If you're a Cavaliers fan, it's been a while since you've seen a performance like that in Cleveland. In fact, it's the most points scored by a Cavalier at home in franchise history.

LeBron has eight 50-point games with the Cavaliers, but all of them have come on the road. The only previous 50-point game by a Cavalier at home was by Walt Wesley in 1971. The only visiting player to score more than Irving's 55 at Cleveland was Michael Jordan, who scored 69 points in 1990.

Irving made a franchise-record 11 3-pointers, breaking the record of 10 previously set by C.J. Miles last season. Irving joins Joe Dumars as the only players in NBA history with at least 10 3-pointers and 10 free throws in a game.

It was just the Cavaliers' second win in 10 games this season without James. Irving has stepped up in such games with 27.3 points per game, compared to 20.7 when James is in the lineup. Irving has eight more field goal attempts per game without James, but he has also been less efficient (lower field goal percentage and more turnovers per game).

Lack of continuity for Cavaliers
Another missed game by James continues a theme of inconsistency for the Cavaliers in terms of their lineup. Throughout the season, the Cavs have dealt with injured stars and trades.

Their 25-12 record with James (.676 win percentage) would be second in the East behind the Atlanta Hawks.

But even that doesn't represent the current Cavs team at full strength. Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert recently joined the team. In the eight games with Mozgov and Smith after James returned from injury, the Cavs were 7-1. Their offensive efficiency in those eight games (115.9 points per 100 possessions) would rank first in the league for the season.

In their past five games together, it's even better. Not only would their offensive efficiency in that span rank first in the league (116.0), but their defensive efficiency (97.4) would rank second.

It's just a matter of continuity -- whether or not the Cavaliers can stay healthy and continue the rhythm they developed in those eight games.

The Cavaliers most used lineup includes Anderson Varejao, who is out for the season. Their next-most used lineup -- Irving, LeBron, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion and Tristan Thompson -- has played just 110 minutes together this season. The New York Knicks are the only team whose most used lineup has played fewer minutes together.
video

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony had 31 points and 10 rebounds, Lance Thomas scored a season-high 17 points against his former team and the New York Knicks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-92 on Wednesday night.

Langston Galloway added 18 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, finishing with 14 for the Knicks, who won for the fourth time in five games, representing nearly half of their nine victories on the season.

Russell Westbrook scored 40 points on 13-of-30 shooting for the Thunder, who were without Kevin Durant for a second straight game because of a sprained big toe on his left foot.

Westbrook blitzed the Knicks in his season debut after returning from injury in November, leading the Thunder to a 27-point romp. But behind players such as Galloway and Thomas, who weren't around then, the Knicks continued their best stretch of the season.


(Read full post)


Jackson: Knicks used to deflate ball

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
2:33
PM ET

Last week, ESPN Insider David Thorpe wondered aloud: Could the NBA have Deflategate?

Is it possible a team could get away with shady tactics to gain a competitive edge?

The answer to that question comes from Phil Jackson, nearly 20 years after the fact.

Todd Radom, the graphic designer behind some of sports' more recognizable logos, tweeted a screenshot Wednesday of a December 1986 article by Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune. In it, Jackson details how the famed 1970s Knicks teams he played for used to strategically deflate the basketball.

Less air pressure slowed down fast-break teams, helped the Knicks clear the boards -- since the ball wouldn't carom as far off the rim -- and didn't hinder the flow of New York's offense, which relied more on passing than dribbling.

Jackson, who is now president of the Knicks, said the team carried around inflation needles to let air out of the ball.

As Radom's tweet found traction on social media, Jackson clarified that the Knicks' pressure alteration was legal:

Jackson was coaching in Puerto Rico in 1986. He was hired to Doug Collins' Bulls staff the following year.


(Read full post)


Kevin Durant sits in loss to Knicks

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
12:42
PM ET
video

Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant missed his second straight game Wednesday, a 100-92 loss to the New York Knicks, because of a toe injury.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks told reporters that Durant would miss the game after the team's shootaround Wednesday morning. The reigning NBA MVP still is considered day to day with a sprained big toe on his left foot.

Russell Westbrook scored 40 points on 13-of-30 shooting for the Thunder in Wednesday night's loss, but they didn't have nearly enough balance without Durant and fell to 23-23.

Durant suffered the injury in Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and was ruled out shortly before the start of Oklahoma City's game Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Despite the absence of their leading scorer, the Thunder defeated the Timberwolves 92-84 thanks in part to a double-double by Serge Ibaka.

Durant, who also missed the first month of the season with a foot injury, is averaging 25.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


(Read full post)


'Bockers need another believer, stat!

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
4:39
PM ET

Kevin Durant, Amar'e StoudemireDebby Wong/USA TODAY Sports As Kevin Durant and other All-Stars near free agency, what the Knicks really need is another Amar'e Stoudemire -- a guy who looks at this mess of a franchise and says, "What the heck!"

NEW YORK -- With the Knicks perennially stuck in a tar pit of disappointment -- the more they thrash, the worse it seems to get -- it sounds strange to say the team's latest great rebuilding plan hinges on it getting another Amar'e Stoudemire.

Yet it does. Not the Stoudemire who got hurt and aged out during his stay with the Knicks, but the man who was willing to take the leap here when no other free-agent All-Star would.

It's a topic especially worth revisiting today as Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder arrive to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden (without Durant, who will miss his second straight game with a sprained toe). The five-year, $100 million deal Stoudemire signed expires this season. Yet the Knicks are right back where they were when they were angling to get LeBron James, Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade and wound up with Stoudemire instead.

Durant, supposedly the Knicks' latest target, can easily get the sort of max contract the Knicks threw at Stoudemire if Durant opts for free agency in the summer of 2016. Stoudemire couldn't say the same in 2010.


(Read full post)


No more 'late nights' for J.R. in Cleveland

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
1:45
PM ET
J.R. Smith thinks Cleveland is “the best situation” for him and it’s not just because LeBron James is there.

The way Smith sees it, the shooter might be able to find more consistency in his game in a city like Cleveland where there isn’t as much of a nightlife as New York City.

In a conversation with NBA.com’s David Aldridge, Smith said living in Cleveland should help his game.

“Consistency has been something that ... I wouldn't say lacked, but it's just been stints where I get hot, and then you go cold for two, three games, whatever the case may be,” Smith said. “Just staying consistent, and that involves staying in the gym. So for me, I got my brother here with me, so we're in the gym every night, playing one-on-one, or whatever the case may be, as well as me getting my rest.

“I think this is the best situation for me, 'cause there's nothing but basketball. There's nothing you expect but basketball. There's nothing, there's no going out, there's no late nights. There's video games, basketball and basketball.”

The former Knick, who was traded along with Iman Shumpert to the Cavs in a three-team deal earlier this month, said living in Cleveland reminds him of what life was like when he was younger.

“It's a great thing, 'cause I go back to where I came from,” said Smith, who grew up in New Jersey. “When I grew up, I never, I wasn't allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball.

“And then when I got in the situation where I was at an early age, it was more, all right, let me see what this life is about, as opposed to just keep going. So now, I get the chance to get back to my roots.”

Smith is averaging 15.2 points in his first 10 games in Cleveland after scoring 10.9 per game as a Knick this season. He admits that the Manhattan nightlife was not the best thing for his game.

“Especially from the standpoint of making me better,” Smith said. “I always made myself better by staying in the gym. When you replace that with stuff off the court, then you're taking away from what made you who you are, or what got you to a certain point. It was kind of pulling me down in a sense, of not getting enough rest, not doing things you're supposed to be doing, things you're used to doing.”

Smith said the toughest part of being traded is no longer playing with Carmelo Anthony, who had been teammates with Smith in Denver and New York.

“We played together nine years,” Smith said. “The bond, the camaraderie, the brotherhood that we gained, it's, I wouldn't say over, it's just discontinued. When you're playing with a person like Melo, you depend on him a lot, from on the court and off the court.

“I can always go to him for advice, just everyday life things, as well as stuff on the court. So I think that's the toughest part. But fortunately, coming to a team like this, I've also got him in a different person, between him and LeBron. It's pretty much the same concepts and stuff like that; it's just coming from a different voice.”

Smith said he really wanted to succeed in the triangle offense. But he understands what Phil Jackson is trying to do in New York.

“They made the right decision,” Smith said. “You have to take the car apart in order for it to be what you want it to be.”

Knicks agree with Langston Galloway

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
1:05
PM ET
[+] EnlargeLangston Galloway and Lou Amundson
Bill Streicher/USA TODAY SportsKnicks coach Derek Fisher has credited players like Langston Galloway, left, and Lou Amundson for changing the atmosphere in the locker room.

NEW YORK -- The Knicks have agreed to a contract with point guard Langston Galloway for the remainder of this season and the 2015-16 season, league sources told ESPNNewYork.com.

The Knicks confirmed Tuesday afternoon that they had signed Galloway for the remainder of the season but didn't include any information on his contract status for the 2015-16 season.

Galloway's second 10-day contract with the Knicks expired earlier Tuesday, so he had been free to sign with any team.

His contract for the 2015-16 season contains a partial guarantee, according to league sources. Galloway has impressed the Knicks' coaches since being signed to his first 10-day contract Jan. 7.

Galloway, who played with the Knicks' summer league team and their D-League team in Westchester, is averaging 12 points per game in his first eight games with the team. He is also producing three assists and pulling down four rebounds per game while shooting 43 percent from the field.


(Read full post)


Fisher's big challenge? Motivating players

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
9:23
PM ET
The biggest challenge of Derek Fisher's young coaching career might surprise you.

It has nothing to do with all the New York Knicks' losses or the unfulfilled expectations. It's about getting his players "excited to play the game."

"Probably what jumps out the most is you still have to work pretty hard to motivate and inspire guys at this level," Fisher said late last week. "[For] a guy who came into the league in 1996 [as Fisher did], that wasn't required. If you weren't self-driven and self-motivated, you couldn't get on the floor.

"As a coach [in today's NBA], you still have to find ways to push buttons and get guys excited about playing the game. As a player for 18 years, my brain worked that way. It's one area that continues to evolve -- find ways to help my guys be more inspired and more motivated."

Fisher didn't name names when talking about players who weren't self-motivated. But he's noted recently that the players on 10-day contracts -- Langston Galloway, Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas -- have brought a renewed energy to the Knicks' locker room.

The implication, of course, is the locker room lacked passion when J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Samuel Dalembert inhabited it. Fisher would never say that publicly, but it's at least fair to wonder if that's what he is implying.

Ticket prices taking a hit: Most of the time, a Knicks-Lakers game at Madison Square Garden is an expensive ticket. This season, its value has taken a hit on the secondary ticket market -- along with that of the rest of the games left on the Knicks' schedule.

The average price of a ticket for the Knicks' game against the Lakers on Feb. 1 has fallen by 37 percent in the past two months, according to the website TiqIQ.

That's a common theme for the struggling Knicks.

The average price of 15 of the Knicks' final 18 games has dropped by more than 30 percent the past two months, according to TiqIQ. (This does not include the rescheduled Knicks-Kings game.)

Since the beginning of the season, the average price for a Knicks ticket on the secondary market has dropped by 27 percent.

That's what happens when you're 8-37.

Of course, the Knicks continue to sell out home games. So the drop in ticket value on the secondary market doesn't have a direct impact on the team's ticket revenue.

Still, it's interesting to note the average ticket price this season on secondary markets (201.19) is the lowest in at least five years.

Starks chipping in for charity: Ex-Knick John Starks will be a celebrity coach at an event to raise money for diabetes research.

Starks will coach along with CC Sabathia, rapper Fat Joe and sports executive Shawn Pecas at the Hard 2 Guard 2015 Celebrity All-Star Game. The game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at Baruch College.

Part of the proceeds will be donated to diabetes research.

"Diabetes is a big part of our community. It's really touched so many of us," said Rickey Rivers, the founder of Fun Sport, which co-hosts the event. "This is a perfect opportunity to put some emphasis on the disease."

Knicks, Nets postpone games

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
1:22
PM ET
[+] Enlarge2015 Blizzard Satellite Picture
NOAA/Getty ImagesForecasts project 20 to 30 inches of snow to fall in New York City and surrounding areas over the next two days.

With one of the largest snowstorms in recent history bearing down on the New York City area, the NBA has postponed the New York Knicks' and Brooklyn Nets' home games scheduled for Monday night.

With the National Weather Service describing this storm as a "crippling and potentially historic" blizzard, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Monday. Forecast projections for New York City and areas surrounding it predict that up to 20 to 30 inches of snow could hit the area over the next two days.

The Knicks' game against the Sacramento Kings has been rescheduled for March 3. The Nets' game against the Portland Trail Blazers has been rescheduled for April 6.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also declared a state of emergency for New Jersey. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference Monday afternoon that all non-emergency vehicles are ordered off the streets of New York at 11 p.m. and that city schools are closed for Tuesday.


(Read full post)


Is tanking the right strategy for NYK?

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
6:00
AM ET
Langston Galloway and Lou AmundsonBill Streicher/USA TODAY SportsIs tanking the answer in New York? Some second-half success could hurt the Knicks' lottery hopes.
NEW YORK -- Langston Galloway gathered the ball in the deepest corner of the court with two seconds left on the shot clock late Wednesday night. With the Knicks up by four in a game they were desperate to win, Galloway squared up and knocked down a seemingly impossible 25-foot fadeaway over 6-foot-8 forward Jerami Grant.

The shot, which sealed the Knicks’ first set of consecutive wins in nearly three months, set off a wild celebration.

Players on the Knicks’ bench erupted. Galloway streaked down the court and met Lou Amundson in midair for a chest bump to put an exclamation point on the play -- and the rare Knicks win.

SportsNation

Do you think the Knicks should tank the season to land a top pick?

  •  
    77%
  •  
    23%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,641)

In a season full of misery, this was a moment in which the Knicks could revel.

Shortly after the win, point guard Jose Calderon tried to explain what exactly had gone right for the Knicks in the final minutes.

“I think we did a better job executing than we’re used to doing,” Calderon said. “And we’re getting better.”

In a normal season, this would be a welcome development for an NBA team. But this season has been anything but normal for New York.

When Phil Jackson decided to trade Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to Cleveland for a 2019 second-round pick and two trade exceptions, he changed the calculus on the Knicks’ 2014-15 season.

With that move, Jackson made it clear that he was focused on clearing as much cap space as possible for the 2015 offseason.

The Knicks also own their first-round draft pick this season. So, naturally, the feeling among most people around the league is that the Knicks are tanking to gain a top pick in June’s draft.

Of course, no one associated with the Knicks will say that the team wants to lose games to improve its lottery standing.

“I think that’s a bad mentality to have,” Carmelo Anthony said last week.

But the writing is on the wall.

And that’s what makes nights like Wednesday such a double-edged sword for New York.

Each win the rest of the way can hurt the Knicks’ chances of landing the top pick.

The team that finishes with the fewest wins has the best chance (25 percent) to land the top pick in the draft.

Entering play Monday, the Knicks (8-37) own the second-worst record in the NBA. They are percentage points ahead of the Timberwolves (7-36) and have one more loss than the Sixers (8-36).

Unless things change significantly for either team, all three will jockey for position in a race for last place the rest of the way.

And the stakes are high.

The club that finishes with the second-worst record has a 19.9 percent chance of landing the top pick; the third-worst team has a 15.6 percent chance.

It’s worth noting, though, that finishing with the worst record doesn’t guarantee anything.

Since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won three of the 20 lotteries. (Philadelphia took Allen Iverson in 1996; Cleveland selected LeBron James in 2003; Orlando picked Dwight Howard in 2004.)

The team with the second-best odds has won the lottery twice, and the teams with the third- and fifth-best odds have won it four times each.

So no matter how many games the Knicks lose, there’s no way to ensure that they’ll land the No. 1 pick.

Also, it’s not exactly the end of the world for the Knicks if they don’t land the top pick, particularly in a draft that’s likely to feature more than one elite prospect (Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl-Anthony Towns).

Remember, franchise-altering players have been taken second (Kevin Durant, 2007), third (Carmelo Anthony, 2003) and fourth (Russell Westbrook, 2008) in recent drafts.

Maybe that’s one reason Derek Fisher dismissed a question about tanking earlier this week.

“You're asking the wrong person about that,” Fisher said. “... The only way I know how to approach a game is to try to win it every time.”

Question: Do you think the Knicks should tank the season to land a top pick?

Knicks get up-close look at Duke's Okafor

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25
9:22
PM ET


NEW YORK -- It wasn't exactly a recruiting pitch, more of a casual greeting.

Jahlil Okafor was walking through a back hallway in the bowels of Madison Square Garden on Sunday when he passed Carmelo Anthony and Cleanthony Early.

Anthony briefly greeted Okafor -- and a few other Duke players -- as they crossed paths.

[+] Enlarge Jahlil Okafor
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsDuke's Jahlil Okafor had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a win over St. John's Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
For a moment, Okafor appeared star struck.

"I'm still 19 years old and Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players to play basketball," he said. "I'm a big fan of him."

Anthony wasn't the only Knicks employee at the Garden on Sunday to watch Okafor and Duke play St. John's.

Knicks president Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills, assistant general manager Allan Houston and director of scouting Kristian Peteseric were also on hand to watch Okafor, the player many consider to be the best pro prospect in college basketball.

"I like him," Anthony said after Okafor scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Duke's win. "He's got a great feel for the game and a great touch. He's a big body for sure down there. He's a load."

Okafor had a strong, if uneven, showing in front of the Knicks' hierarchy.

He hit 7 of 10 shots, including two key baskets in Duke's 18-2 run in the second half that allowed the Blue Devils to take control and earn coach Mike Krzyzewski his 1,000th career win. He also had five turnovers.

Afterward, Krzyzewski accentuated the positive.

"He's a remarkable player and needs the attention of an entire team to neutralize him," Krzyzewski said. "He'll be a franchise player and a franchise person for whoever's lucky enough to get him."

There's a vocal contingent of fans who hope the Knicks are that franchise.

"Choke More for Okafor" is a phrase that has become popular among a segment of the team's fan base.

Okafor said he has received Twitter and Instagram comments from Knicks fans about playing for the team in 2015.

"Just supporting their team on my Instagram page and on Twitter," he said.

You can excuse Knicks fans from trying to influence the 19-year-old Okafor.

ESPN's Chad Ford ranks Okafor as the top prospect in the draft thanks to his soft touch around the basket and strong midrange shot. Okafor, 6-foot-11 with a 7-5 wingspan, is drawing comparisons from draft experts to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.

But he's far from perfect.

Ford writes that Okafor's weaknesses include a lack of lateral quickness and a lazy approach at times on defense. He doesn't yet defend the pick-and-roll well and has a penchant to allow easy looks at the rim.

Still, Okafor's potential is undeniable.

"He has the biggest upside in college basketball," Krzyzewski said.

That's why so many members of the Knicks' front office were at the game on Sunday.

Okafor said he didn't notice Anthony or Jackson in the stands but he appreciated the atmosphere at the Garden.

"This is my first time playing here," Okafor said. "I can't believe I'm actually here in Madison Square Garden making history."

If the pingpong balls favor this Knicks in a few months, Okafor may be making history for the home team some day.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.3 3.1 0.9 36.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.0
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.5
StealsL. Galloway 1.3
BlocksL. Amundson 2.0