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New York Knicks Phil Jackson meme

Aging Hippie Phil Jackson Has Lost His Mind In New York

By Frank McLean

On Friday for only the second time since the beginning of training camp, September 23rd to be exact, the aging hippie that has finished the job of running the New York Knicks into the ground Phil Jackson spoke to the New York media to tell one and all why the Knicks stunk this past season.

In a 49-minute ego driven speech to the masses Jackson used the not recommended defense of “it’s not me it’s everyone else” as to why the season didn’t go right.

He claimed at first that yes as President of the team its failure is his responsibility, but then he went on and blamed everyone else.

His coach Jeff Hornacek, his moody and often injured guard Derek Rose, owner James Dolan , the fans and yes the media.

But the most of it was the finishing touches of his campaign to run Carmelo Anthony out of New York City because he is not on board with Jackson’s love of the triangle offense which has gone the way of the rotary dial telephone as a viable NBA offense.

Their end of the season exit meeting this week was not friendly to say the least.

Jackson started his rip job with, “Right now, we need players who are really active and play every single play. Defensively and offensively that’s really important for us. We faced resistance and we faced resistance at the top. We got rid of some guys early on that resisted, weren’t willing to be learners.”

That’s a hint that the reason the triangle didn’t work was because of Anthony.

But here is the problem that Jackson has with Anthony it’s that contract extension he gave him in 2014 which has two years left on it and 54-million dollars with a no-trade clause in it.

One of the worst kept secrets in the NBA was that Jackson was trying to move Anthony at the trade deadline in February. In order to move him Anthony would have to waive that clause and if he doesn’t like a specific trade option he can tell Jackson to “take a hike”.

It was believed that the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers where kicking the tires about a possible trade.

Jackson did admit that it’s going to be difficult to pull off a trade.

“Some teams called that weren’t amenable to Melo and his group,’’ Jackson said. “Some teams called that were but weren’t willing to give up core groups or members of their team which is understandable at that time of the year. So we said no.”

Jackson is hoping some team’s failure in the playoffs made make them want to try and make a deal.

“You’ve got teams going into the playoffs who could be eliminated right away and say, ‘That’s not good enough. We’re not good enough. We’ve got to go somewhere else,” Jackson said.

Jackson then went on to praise Anthony because like every used car salesman knows when trying to make a deal you have to point out all the good things about the car and not go on about the fact it has 150,000 miles on it.

“Carmelo has been great. He is who he is,” Jackson said. “He’s just, he’s an elite scorer, guy will be a Hall of Fame entry at some point, 10-15 years down the road.

“He has always carried the basic load for this team. I thought he stood up well this year in a lot of tough situations. I can’t regret it. I can’t go back and regret that. Obviously, it hasn’t worked out. This partnership together, somehow or the other didn’t click here with this team. But he has done his role and played his role quite well.”

Jackson needs to look in the mirror, if his ego will let him, and realize it’s his fault why the Knicks have regressed and not progressed.

He hired the coach, he traded for Derek Rose, he singed a broken Joakim Noah to a 72-million dollar contract, he accepted the job from James Dolan and realize the fans and the media don’t wear a uniform and play basketball for him.

His press conference all but proved that this aging hippie has lost his mind.




   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.





NBA Washington Wizards Brandon Jennings / New York Knicks

Why The Knicks Fell Apart This Season Phil Jackson

By Frank McLean

Thursday night the Washington Wizards hosted the New York Knicks for the NBA’s latest version of guaranteed win night which is what a team gets when they host the Knicks.

The Knicks didn’t disappoint as they lost 106-103 to drop their season record to 30-wins and 49-losses leaving them with only three more agonizing games left in their regular season schedule for their battered and bruised fans back in New York City.

If you remember back on December 22nd the Knicks were 16-13 and they looked like they were on their way to their goal of making a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

So what went wrong? How did the train fall of tracks?

Before Thursday’s night’s game the Wizards Brandon Jennings weighed in on what went wrong with the New York media saying that once the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors started from Phil Jackson in January it all fell apart.

Jennings started the season with the Knicks after signing a deal with the club in the offseason.

After playing just 58-games averaging 8.6-points a game he was waived by the Knicks on February 27th and then signed with the Wizards on March first for the remainder of the season.

Anthony as we all know has a no trade clause in his contract and it’s known that Jackson was actively trying to move Anthony before the trade deadline. Jennings said that it definitely was bothering Anthony.

“It definitely took a toll, I think, on the team. Because it wasn’t even about basketball anymore, it was more about what was going on with Melo,” Jennings said. It was one of the wildest situations he has been in during his eight seasons in the league.

Jennings added that it was “cool” playing with Anthony, but went on to say that Anthony had “a lot of pressure on him dealing with stuff with Phil.”  Jennings went on to say that it just wasn’t fair what Anthony had to go through.

“I think it was just a roller coaster, an emotional roller coaster for him this year with everything he had to deal with, which isn’t fair,” he said. “For a player to wake up every day and you’re hearing trade rumors and you might be gone and this and that. It was like a two-week span where everybody was hitting your phone about Melo leaving.”

Jennings has a point. The Knicks were in Toronto playing the Raptors in January just a couple of days after the first Anthony to be traded out of New York started when a story came out attributed from a former Jackson colleague that Anthony has to go because he can’t play the triangle offense.

By the time the Knicks came back to Toronto in March you could see that the rumors had taken their toll in the locker room and on the court.

Other factors have to be considered too. The roster mix just didn’t fit, they couldn’t play a simple defense and the fact they couldn’t or wouldn’t play the triangle.

But Jennings hit it on the head that once the Anthony trade rumors started that pretty well killed their season.

Of course the rumors won’t go away as speculation has it that the Knicks will pursue a trade in the offseason and Anthony has hinted he may agree to one.  Meanwhile things have worked out well for Jennings.

When he was waived by the Knicks it was a mutual parting of the ways by both parties.

“I’m on my contract year so I didn’t want to go home in April,” Jennings said about the matter. “I have a chance to go to the playoffs, so I’m really excited about that.”

Who wouldn’t be excited (to leave the Knicks this season)?



   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.





NBA New York Knicks Derrick Rose by Larry Millson

Can Things Get Any Worse For The Knicks?

By Frank McLean

Last week was not a banner week for the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchise, the New York Knicks. The news surrounding Phil Jackson, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah was worse than all the losing. So, let’s work our way backwards and review the week that was for the embittered team.

On Saturday, not letting a deficit of 19-points at halftime deter them, the Knicks hung on to lose in San Antonio 106-98 and complete a perfect 0-for-4 west coast road trip and extend their losing streak to five games.

The Knicks have gone into complete tank mode, looking to get the best pick in the lottery and find a savior in the NBA draft to start their 100th rebuild since they won their last championship back in the early 70’s.

In the bizarre world of the Knicks, losing is good and losing big, even though they look like they are trying to follow the failed team building method of the Philadelphia 76ers, is “trusting the process.”

Meanwhile the guy running the show, Phil Jackson, might be expected to, you know, attend NCAA Tournament games for an up close and personal look at that one special player who might be able to play within his out dated triangle offense. Nah, that makes too much sense for the “Zen Master.”

Instead, when the Knicks left Los Angeles, Phil stayed behind to be present for the Shaquille O’Neal statue unveiling outside the Staples Center Friday night. Better to have your ego stroked and remind everyone you used to be a genius coaching all those championship teams in Chicago and Southern California and not the dummy you are thought off in New York.

Saturday saw the Knicks lose Joakim Noah to a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy. It seems that Noah took an over the counter banned performance enhancing substance. It’s seems Noah decided not to pick the brains of the team doctors who can tell you what supplements you can take and which ones to avoid.

Noah took a supplement with androgen that help’s with testosterone. It tends to act like an anabolic steroid and hence is viewed as a performance-enhancing ingredient because it “provides many of the muscle-building and therapeutic benefits of testosterone.’’ An NBA source told the New York Post that some items have been removed from the list in the new CBA for next season, but this one remained.

Noah is on the injured list, so his suspension will start when he comes off and is healthy enough to play. He is expected to be eligible to return this season so his suspension will cover the end of this season and the start of next totaling 20-games.

Almost overshadowed were the comments from Derrick Rose. Acquired in an offseason trade from Chicago with one year left on his contract, Rose hinted he is not considering coming back to the Knicks.

“I’ve got more than enough money saved. If I stopped playing basketball now, I’ll be all right. I want to win. I want to be happy and feel at peace with myself wherever I’m at. But being at the negotiating table, you never know. I’m not going to negotiate with people where money is the number one thing I’m asking for. I want to win.”

It’s hard not to read between the lines that he is saying, “I’m out of here.”

“This will be the first time I’ll be a free agent,” Rose added. “I don’t know how that process goes. After the season, me, my agent, my brothers, family will have to talk about it. Of course I want to be here, just being in this environment, being in New York, being at the Garden every other night, it’s a blessing. But, again, I have to really talk it over with my agent and my brothers.”

Give him credit, he made sure he did not insult the city of New York. It’s just that the Knicks as a team to play for sucks.

That was the week that was for the Knicks. It will be fun to see how they can screw things up this week and next and next. Winning any more games might be the biggest mistake at this point. Oops, what was the point in beating the Pistons on Monday?



   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

   Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson




NBA New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony

Knicks Can’t Polish Up The Decline Of Carmelo Anthony

Anyone want an aging former superstar? The rumors about the Knicks shopping Carmelo Anthony hard are coming fast and furious. but with each reported fantasy trade the anticipated return is dropping as Phil Jackson can’t polish up the the nearly straight-line decline of the once formidable forward. It’s hard to make any deal when you don’t have faith in what you are selling.

Don’t be fooled by his 22.7 points per game this season. Anthony signed his new four year deal coming off of seasons of 28.7 points in 2012-13, 27.4 points in 2013-14 and 24.2 points in a knee injury shortened 2014-15. Apparently the NBA head coaches aren’t fooled. Anthony is about to miss the NBA All-Star Game for the first time in a decade, and his recent sore knee is nothing to be concerned about (sarcasm) as reported by Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News at the start of the month, just ask him.

“I was contemplating if I was going to give it a go, give it a shot,” Anthony said. “Then the more that I played, the sorer it got.”

Anthony wasn’t concerned about missing Monday’s home game against Magic.

“No, I don’t think it’s that serious,” he said. “I think it’s just the fact that it happened (Friday night), and I tried to go out there and play on (Saturday). I don’t think it’ll be an issue.”

Assuming away potential knee problems in a soon-to-be 33-year-old player (good luck with that Phil), the biggest problem the Knicks face in shipping Anthony out of town on a rail is he has a no trade clause and has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to go. Then there’s his massive $24.5 million salary escalating over the next two seasons to $27.9 million when Anthony could opt out (he won’t) and a 15 percent trade kicker just to make the numbers even worse.

It’s hard not to compare the Anthony situation to what happened recently between the Celtics and the Nets when Brooklyn went all-in for a couple of aging former superstars, gave away a boatload of talent and futures, and sent their team into the abyss for a brief shinning moment in the second round of the postseason. No one would do that again so soon after that lesson?

The signs of a player in decline are everywhere. He’s playing the fewest minutes per game of his career (33.6) and this will be the third straight year of decline. His offensive rebounding has almost fallen completely off the map at under 1 per game, again for the first time in his career and less than half of what it was four years ago. His ability to grab any rebounds was never all that great and has fallen to 129th among NBA forwards. Of course, his scoring has also dropped since signing that new contract as well.

If Anthony can stay on the court and the team that takes him doesn’t give up too much, preferably including contracts they’d like to dump to make the trade math work, then sure, Anthony could help the right team in the right situation this year. But does an aging offensive-minded player owed +$54 million over the next two seasons after this one sound like a bargain just waiting to be picked up?

Is there an NBA GM desperate enough to try saving their job by sending actual difference-making talent back to New York in return for a couple of seasons of Anthony or will Jackson allow his New York legacy to be that of the guy who sent Anthony packing for some role players and a bag of magic beans (a.k.a. salary cap relief)?



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson



NBA New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah

The Clock Is Ticking On Phil Jackson’s Time In New York

By Frank McLean

Phil Jackson has to be hoping that this week is better than last week. Heck it couldn’t get any worse and you have to wonder with Jackson’s invisible act, if maybe the clock is ticking on him staying on as the New York Knicks President of Basketball.

It started (sort of) when Derrick Rose went AWOL hours before the Knicks were to play the New Orleans Pelicans. The players did not know where Rose was. Coach Jeff Hornacek did not know where he was and neither did the team’s PR staff. Afterward it was learnt he had went home to Chicago to attend a family issue regarding his mother.

There was not a peep from Jackson and you had to feel sorry for Hornacek as he had to address the media as to what happened. He had no answers.

Oh and let’s not forget that the Knicks, supposed to be a playoff team, have just kept losing. Counting the one point loss to Atlanta the Knicks have only celebrated a victory thrice in their last 16-games and have slipped to 19-26 good for 11th-in the East and three games out of the last playoff spot.

The cream came in Toronto when the Knicks were taking a 17-point beatdown by the Raptors where at one point the deficit reached 34-points.

A so called 30-year friend of Jackson, a guy named Charley Rosen wrote a column for FanRagSports.com that Carmelo Anthony’s time in New York is numbered.

Rosen alleged Anthony’s “legs are going, going gone’’ and wrote. “The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York. As ever, he’s still a dangerous scorer but resists any offensive game plan that limits his one-on-one adventures.”

Rosen on Monday wrote that he has never talked to Jackson and that his comments are his not Phil’s.

Anthony has a no trade clause in his contract so any trade can’t be made unless he agrees to it and to his credit he has not asked for trade. He’s 32 (until May) and his time to get a shot of winning a championship is running out.

“If that’s the case, if that’s where it’s coming from, that side, I guess it’s a conversation we should have,” Anthony said Sunday. “If they feel my time in New York is over, I guess that’s a conversation we should have.

“Listen, if that’s how they feel, if that’s coming from that side, then that’s what’s coming from that side. I haven’t thought once about that. I hear it, hear all the rhetoric going on out there. I still come to work every day, play and bust my ass and try not to worry about it. ”

Anthony isn’t pouting. The problem with the Knicks, all the dysfunction with this team, points to Jackson.

He is the boss and he has gone into hiding. Yes you see him and General Manager Steve Mills sitting in their seats during games in Madison Square Garden, but he has not spoken public about anything since December.

In that Jackson talked about how Anthony clogs up the flow of his sacred triangle offense.

He should have been the frontman when Rose went missing. He’s the boss, the top man, if one of your employees is missing you have to be the one answering questions. Instead he sends out Hornacek to answer questions. That’s not his responsibility.

The roster is a mess.

Yes they are missing second year center Kristap Porzingis with a sore Achilles periodically, but the Knicks don’t play defense. Joakim Noah all of a sudden can’t score and Rose is upset that the team can’t get it together.

You have to think Jackson’s time with the Knicks has to be coming to an end soon.

The roster is all on him, it’s not working and his insistence on the outdated triangle offense is not helping.

The problem is he really doesn’t know how to be a good manager. There is no communication with the players. Normally management and employees talk all the time because in every business, to be successful, everyone has to be on the same page.

Jackson should have been talking to Anthony on Sunday to say ‘hey I did not make those comments or yah I did I have a problem of the way you play and we need to talk.’

ESPN reported that sometime the two will meet. Sometime is not a day on a calendar.

If Jackson’s head is not in this job he needs to go and the Knicks need to find someone who is familiar with 21st century basketball on how to build a proper roster and run things in a professional manner. And not have your friends act as your unofficial PR guy letting the world know what you think about your team.

It looks like Phil Jackson has lost his employees trust and as a result his time in New York is running out. Perhaps the real question should be, what’s taking so long?



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson





NBA East

Playoff Contenders And Pretenders In The NBA East

As NBA teams prepare for New Year’s celebrations, their coaches and general managers have to start facing up to some tough realities. Are they playoff contenders or pretenders in the East? Is it time to tank for the best possible NBA Draft Lottery ticket or go all in for one of the readily available last four playoff spots?

Currently there are eight teams fighting for the last four playoff spots in the Eastern Conference: Hawks, Wizards, Knicks, Bulls, Bucks, Pacers, Magic and Pistons and the 12th place Pistons are only three games back of the fifth place Hawks. Whoever can get and keep their act together over the final 40-odd games left in the season is in.

Just for perspective, ESPN Eastern Conference predictions have the Hornets, Celtics, Raptors and Cavaliers at better than 95 percent certainty of making the postseason. Although only the Raptors and Cavs are given any chance at advancing to the NBA Finals. Miami, Brooklyn and Philadelphia are already relegated to just playing out the string. ESPN also provides Strength of Schedule and the usual standings details to help round out where the teams in the East stand.

NBA East

The teams, their opponents, the fans or anyone else for that matter is under no obligation to just accept ESPN’s predictions. These eight teams are so close that the right move could solidify, boost or reverse (if the tank is in) the fortunes of any one of them.

Atlanta Hawks – ESPN 6th

The Hawks have made the postseason in each of the past nine seasons and if any organization has shown they can pull out the stops necessary to get back there again, this is it.

This team is full value for their .500 record. They have shown an ability to beat anyone, like the Raptors and Cavs and then lose to anyone as they did to the Timberwolves and Magic recently.

With fully half of this roster expected to hit free agency in July, one might expect the Hawks to do the rational move and cash in a high value player who will be tough to keep for a very mediocre team to get future assets, but pending free agents haven’t produced much in trade talks in recent years and it’ll be easier to just try to ride this group to a 10th in a row postseason appearance.

At this point, it wouldn’t be safe to go against the ESPN prediction.

Washington Wizards – ESPN 9th

The Wizards have reversed a terrible start to the season, but they did it playing a somewhat soft schedule that included a couple of wins over the Nets in December.

The best arguments for not just blowing up this roster are the two wins over Milwaukee and the wins over Charlotte and Detroit this month, all of whom ESPN has finishing ahead of Washington.

The Wizards financially committed to winning this season and should be actively looking for trades over the next six weeks to upgrade their roster, especially that terrible 29th ranked (worse than the Nets) bench. It wouldn’t take much to keep them solidly in the playoff picture.

If the Wizards don’t make a move, ESPN has got this prediction right.

New York Knicks – ESPN 10th

Will the Knicks break the hearts of their long suffering fans once again? Probably and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s challenging to project any team giving up nearly 108 points per game making the playoffs.

They are getting outscored by their opponents by the second biggest margin in this group of eight teams. They can’t beat good teams and the much anticipated string of injuries to this rather brittle roster has yet to really happen.

It’s easy to see the Knicks trying to turn draft picks into players that could help now and it might work – for this season, but hasn’t this organization had it’s fill of being taken advantage of by other teams for possible short term gain?

The Knicks making the postseason would be a real “feel good” story. However, the competition for one of those spots might just be too tough unless a few of their competitors decide to tank.

Chicago Bulls – ESPN 8th

Underachievers sums up the Bulls season and it might just cost head coach Fred Hoiberg his job, but if that happens, just throw out the ESPN prediction of 8th place. This team would be headed back to the Lottery and looking to retool for next year.

The Bulls have enjoyed the easiest schedule in the NBA and they are blowing it. Worse, they don’t seem to know why things aren’t going better and can benching Rajon Rondo in the second half of games really be the answer? Throw out the all the fancy ESPN stats on this one, since beating the Cavs on December 2nd, they’ve lost to every team that matters to go 5-10.

If any team needs to make a deal, the Bulls are it and they have assets other teams should be interested in. Assuming management can keep its focus, but this is one team that seems destined to return to the Lottery.

Milwaukee Bucks – ESPN 5th

A young Bucks team hasn’t fared so well thru a rough patch in the schedule, but they still hold the largest points differential of the teams in the group while playing the second toughest schedule. A 7-8 December includes losses to the Spurs, Raptors and Cavs twice.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are the present and the future of this team and any tinkering with this roster has to take these two future (all?)-stars into account. Plus Kris Middleton could return from his hamstring injury after the All-Star break, so the pressure is off in terms of needing to add another impact player.

Sorry Greg Monroe, but the Bucks aren’t under any pressure to move you, but if any team has a point guard they’d like to swap for a big man?

This team is going to the postseason.

Indiana Pacers – ESPN 11th

Tied with Chicago for the easiest schedule in the NBA, a team featuring Paul George should be competing with Toronto for second place in the East instead of owning a spot in the Lottery. There were consequences to shaking up the roster and firing the head coach after what should have been considered a successful season last year.

A team that used to be known for playing big is getting crushed on the glass to the tune of almost 12 offensive rebounds given up and a rebounding differential approaching 5. Add that to the third worst bench in the NBA and what’s become a middle of the road starting group, and even a superstar isn’t going to save you.

A trade for a shooting guard that could score would help as would a big that could rebound, but the Pacers don’t have a lot to offer in return. Unfortunately, ESPN’s prediction of 11th place is looking to be rock solid.

Orlando Magic – ESPN 12th

Apparently someone forgot to mention that the NBA is a guard driven league these days?

The Magic have trouble scoring, they aren’t much of a three-point threat and they could use upgrades at both guard spots. Other than that, this team could be really good. Maybe a trade would help?

Bringing in Serge Ibaka on an expiring deal without the guard play necessary to get the most out of him could easily turn this into a terrible trade for the Magic when he walks away in free agency in July. So sooner rather than later, the Magic have to either trade Ibaka to get something back or trade someone else to get the help needed to turn this sinking Titanic around in hopes of convincing Ibaka to re-sign.

Either way, go with the ESPN prediction. The Magic’s plan for this season didn’t work.

Detroit Pistons – ESPN 7th

Stan Van Gundy is a really good coach, but even he seems flustered by the play of this group. Although, playing the second toughest schedule in the NBA could do that to a team expected to finish somewhere between 5th and 8th before the season began.

The Pistons have played 20 games against teams with a .500 record or better. The Bulls have only played 12, the Wizards 13, and the Hawks and Pacers 14. Van Gundy has his excuse for being in 12th place at 15-20 on the season (not that he’s using it.)

A middle of the road group of starters is supported by the East’s 4th best bench, so slipping into a playoff spot is well within reach and Van Gundy isn’t above rolling the dice on a trade. Although, all the Pistons may need to do is to wait on the schedule to turn in their favor and they’ll meet or exceed ESPN’s prediction.

In Summary,

Contenders: Hawks, Bucks, Pistons

Pretenders: Knicks, Pacers, Magic

Let’s Make A Deal: Wizards, Bulls


Who do you think can grab one of the final four playoff spots in the East?

Which teams pull the trigger on a deal – to make it? – or tank?



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.





NBA New York Knicks Derrick Rose by Larry Millson

Derrick Rose Is Fixing His Image In New York

Keep your head down, play well and help your team win is the proven formula for fixing a tarnished image in professional sports and Derrick Rose is following this playbook to a “t” in New York.

“I’ve been in the house ever since I’ve got (to New York),” Rose said. “I’m alone. I don’t need to go outside to be around people to have fun. Me having fun is just sitting in the crib watching documentaries or watching TV shows all day and resting.” (Rose is a big Westworld fan.)

It’s been a rough six months for Rose. Traded by the Bulls, the team that drafted him first overall in 2008, to the Knicks in June and then having his private sex life made very public by way of a civil trial, it would have been understandable if Rose was having trouble focusing on basketball this season. It doesn’t matter that last year was his best season since 2010-11 or the civil trial established he did nothing legally wrong, these kind of events hurt a professional athlete’s reputation and would be draining on anyone.

However, Rose has put his mind to his work and it’s showing. He’s having a good season and ESPN has even raised the question about giving Rose an extension as he is a free agent after this season.

While it is way too early for actual extension talks, the “feeling out” process going on between Rose and the Knicks is looking very positive. There’s just lots of time remaining before a call like this needs to be made by either side.

“I am trying to feel everything out,” Rose said. “I am not trying to rush it. I am just trying to win games. It’s different than actually trying to go out there for 25 to 30 (points), you got to figure out how to win as a group first before you start adding personal goals.”

As a .500 team, the Knicks are doing better than some of us expected before the season began and if they (Rose in particular) can stay healthy, there is no reason they can’t be better than this and Rose feels he’s built for the discerning and sometimes hostile crowd at Madison Square Garden.

“I think I’m built for (New York),” Rose said. “The way that I play and how hard I work, I think I’m built for that crowd.”

And Rose is definitely leaving the door open to extend his time in New York.

“In the summer, that’s when I tend to be out a little bit more, but this year I’m just focused on trying to win games and after that see how everything goes and I’ll probably experience the city a little bit more. As of right now, I’m just hooping.”

If his hooping gets the Knicks back into the postseason, the pressure will be on to get his name inked to a new deal to stay in New York and no one will care about the injury woes and publicity blunders of the past. Head down, play well and help your team win is the proven formula to fixing your image and getting that next big contract.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

Special thanks to James Jia for recording the audio





NBA Los Angeles Lakers D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle & Jordan Clarkson

Lakers, Knicks, Pelicans And Jazz Are Better Than Their Records

The top teams of last season remain the top teams through the first full month of this year, so after April maybe nothing changes, but last year’s Lottery Teams in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Utah and New York look a lot better and the early signs point to the Lakers, Pelicans, Jazz and Knicks being playoff teams this season.

As of the end of November NBA teams have played 16 to 20 games and the early rust or lack of chemistry has started to fade. The revamped Warriors and the consistent Cavaliers remain the best in the league with the Clippers, Spurs and Raptors not so far behind. These five sit atop their respective conferences and are the only teams in the Association with winning records against opponents with a .500 record or better.

Expanded NBA Standings 11-30-2016

This early in the season the NBA standings can be misleading as teams will not have all faced the same level of competition, so one way to level the playing field is to look at records against opposition that are .500 or better.

The big changes atop the conferences are the better than expected start from the Clippers who aren’t underperforming this year and the modest, but expected, decline by the Thunder sans Kevin Durant. However, the Thunder are just one of two teams with a .500 record against winning clubs, the other team being the surprising Lakers.

Only those wearing purple and gold colored glasses had pegged the Lakers as a playoff team prior to this season and their youth may yet betray them, but the 9th place Lakers (10-10) are 6-6 vs teams with a .500 record or better and the losses that have kept them below the playoff line were against the Mavericks (3-14), Timberwolves (5-13) and the improving Pelicans (7-12).

In contrast to the Lakers, the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers are above the playoff line thanks to a very soft schedule and going 8-2 against sub .500 teams.

The oft injured Pelicans dug themselves a deep hole to start the season by going 0-8, but they’ve started digging themselves out by starting to win against .500 or better teams. They’ll need to stop losing to the sub .500 crowd (1-5) like the recent loss to the Mavericks, but this team should soon be a lot better than their 7-12 record.

The Knicks currently reside in 9th place in the East, right where some of us thought they’d end up, but they’ve had a tough schedule to start the season and going 6-8 versus teams that are .500 or better and 3-1 against sub .500 clubs suggests this is a playoff team if injuries don’t derail them.

The NBA is just starting to round the quarter pole of the season, so a lot of things can still happen to improve or decimate a team’s fortunes, but the early trends suggest that while the top of the league may be stagnant, there could be big changes to the rest of the playoff picture before this is over.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.






New York Knicks Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis

Knicks Walt Frazier Talks Rose, Noah, Melo And Porzingis

By Frank McLean

Not long ago the Knicks were in Toronto for the first of their two visits this season to the Air Canada Centre and Pro Bball Report had a chance to sit down with former Knicks player Walt “Clyde” Frasier who for the last 25 years has been either the team’s radio or television color commentator and talk about the moves Knicks president Phil Jackson has made and the team’s start to the season.

Jackson remade the Knicks roster in the summer with one specific goal in mind and that’s make the playoffs come hell or high water.

The first big move Jackson made was raiding the Chicago Bulls of two of their stars from the last few seasons, trading for guard Derrick Rose and signing as a free agent center Joakim Noah to take the offensive load off forward Carmelo Anthony and improve the overall team defense.

“It was a great coup by Phil Jackson to bring these guys in,” Frazier said. “No one saw it coming. Rose will really help us, last year we were last in hoops transition. He gives us that type of quickness.

“In Noah he’s like Tyson Chandler who we had a few years ago. He was a former defensive player of the year and he plays that game.”

Frazier also loved another free agent signing guard Courtney Lee.

“He can play without the ball and gives you lots of energy because you have to be able to defend yourself”.

Even with the changes Frazier says 13-year veteran Carmelo Anthony is still ‘the man’ on Broadway.

“Melo is still one of the most lethal guys in the league in isolation,” Frazier said. “He has provided more leadership this year and he has taken more responsibility trying to galvanize the team.”

The man who is expected to become ‘the man’ sooner or later and likely sooner with the Knicks is second year center Kristaps Porzingis.

Porzingis started off slow this season, but he is getting 30-minutes a night laying time and averaging close to 19-points a game.  Frazier says he is on the “threshold of greatness.”

“He’s very precious,” Frazier said. “He came in a 20-year old, speaks fluent English. Says all the right things and wants to be good. His family is here, his older brother and his mother and he loves his mother’s cooking. He is going to be a force and going to be a superstar.”

“He’s not showtime,” Frazier added. “He is team oriented and a very conservative kid. When you talk to him he is aware of being on the biggest stage. It requires a lot of tenacity to play in the NBA.”

Since the loss in Toronto, Porzingis has averaged over 24 points per game, shot over 50 percent from the field, grabbed 8.8 rebounds, a steal and a block and has looked like a force on the court already. No waiting required.

One thing that Frazier is disappointed about is the play of the Knicks bench. Last year it was a strength and this year it’s a weakness.

Of course the biggest change Jackson made was behind the bench, where he fired Derek Fisher midway through last season. He then made assistant Kurt Rambis head man for the rest of the season, but decided to bring in former Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek to take over the club and hand Rambis the title of Associate Head Coach.

Frazier called Hornacek laid back, something that doesn’t usually work in the mega fishbowl that is New York City.

“He’s laidback,” Frazier said. “Now that can be a problem in New York. He is unflappable and he does not get excited, does not yell at the players. The guys respect him and they will perform for him because they respect him.”

The Knicks have gone three seasons without making the playoffs and going four years in a row will get a lot of people fired Frazier said. And it’s not just the owner of Madison Square Garden Jams Dolan who is getting impatient, so are the fans.

“The natives are getting restless,” Frazier said about the Knicks fans who have not had a championship team to cheer for since 1973.

When the Knicks left Toronto with a loss they were 3-6. Since then they are 5-1 improving to 8-7, beating the Mavs, Pistons, Hawks, Blazers and Hornets, so the ‘natives’ should be pretty happy.

However, there is still a lot of basketball left to be played. Many of the changes to this year’s roster are veterans who have been injured at one time or another and it will be interesting to see if these guys can stay healthy. But the real hope could be with Porzingis.



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson




NBA New York Knicks Derrick Rose

Don’t Be Fooled, The Knicks Are Still Struggling

By Frank McLean

Stop me if you have heard this before. The new NBA season is almost two weeks old and as the saying goes, “some things just stay the same”, the New York Knicks are still struggling.

Friday night the Knicks took a disappointing 1-3 record into Chicago where they took on a Bulls squad who had a 3-1 mark to start the campaign.

What made this a big early season match-up was the return to the Windy City of two former Bulls standouts, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Rose a Chicago native was acquired by trade in the off season where the Knicks parted ways with center Robin Lopez. Noah was signed to a $72 million free agent deal and neither player had been a factor heading into Chicago.

Noah was scoreless in two of the Knicks first four games of the season. He was brought in for defense, but was benched in this past Wednesday’s 19 point home loss to Houston.

Rose coming into Friday night’s game was averaging 15 points a game and shooting 47 per cent from the floor, but the knock against him is that he is not setting up his teammates. He only had 10 assists in their first four games.

“It sucks,” Rose said on Thursday of the 1-3 start. “I’ve been on teams where there’s a culture and we’re trying to build a defensive culture here and it takes time.”

“It’s us coming in with the right intensity and having the will to fight,” Noah contributed. “Obviously we have a lot of work to do. It’s not the end of the world. There’s a lot of talent on the team. We got to stay patient.”

“The defense has been taught and preached,” said Knicks new head coach Jeff Hornacek. “Sometimes it comes down to just taking it upon yourself to stop somebody and not look for help. We just can’t let the guy drive by and have two-step advantage and say: ‘Help me, help me.’ ”

The Knicks are desperate for help. They have given up at least 112 points in each of their three losses.

Hornacek also pointed out to the New York media on Thursday that he is not sure if the team is paying attention to the “scouting reports” they get on their opponents and also questioned their conditioning and if offensively the wrong players are asserting themselves.

Last season’s rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis is having a bit of an early sophomore slump. When opponents put a small line-up on the floor he is having a tough time defending smaller forwards who have quickness and speed.

Porzingis misses Lopez who was able to get the ball to the 7’3 forward. He went scoreless on Wednesday night which had Hornacek scratching his head. Why can’t his teammates get him the ball to exploit his size?

Guard Courtney Lee added his “two cents worth” with an idea as to why their defense stinks. He said it’s because they practice against triangle sets and not the pick-and-roll offenses most other clubs use.

Well you know in any discussion about the New York Knicks sooner or later the dreaded “triangle offense” would be brought out.

Two years ago Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan paid $60 million to Phil Jackson to turn this thing around. However, Jackson won his NBA titles with the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers as a coach, not the General Manager which is his portfolio in Gotham.

He ran the “triangle offense” as a coach and he insists his coaches run it as well.

It worked for Jackson because he had Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to run it. It’s a scheme that does not seem to fit in 2016 because the game has changed, defenses are more complex.

However, Friday night in Chicago, the Knicks won 117-104 and their record is now 2-3.

Even though they pulled out a win, the Knicks are still 29th in the NBA for defensive efficiency and are giving up a brutal 109 points per game. They are also dead last at grabbing defensive boards pulling in just 70.1 percent of the available defensive rebounds. The median for defensive rebounding in the NBA is currently 77.9 percent. With just an average offense, this isn’t a formula for winning many games.

This team hasn’t made the playoffs in three seasons and Dolan doesn’t like to miss the extra revenue home playoff games at Madison Square Garden brings to his bank account. However, if Hornachek can’t get the Knick to defend, for the fourth straight year the Knicks will look like guaranteed win night when they show up on your schedule.



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini





NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant

Don’t Panic Over Knicks and Warriors Getting Crushed Opening Night

It’s just one game and we’ve all seen this movie before. A team makes a huge change(s) to their roster in the hopes of getting a lot better and falls flat on their face in the early part of the season. It really is true, team chemistry matters and it can take half a season for a new group of guys to figure out how to play together effectively, so don’t panic if you’re in New York or Golden State – ok, absolutely no one in panicking about the Warriors.

It wasn’t all that long ago that LeBron James in Miami with two other superstars took a while to figure out how to share the rock and it didn’t go any smoother on his return to Cleveland. Unfortunately the same issues can arise whether your team is striving to be a contender, trying make the playoffs or even just be better than last year. Team chemistry takes time to develop and you’re just lucky if it happens faster.

It’s safe to say James is pretty comfortable playing with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love after two trips to the NBA Finals and he coasted to his 43rd career triple-double as the current “Big 3” poured in 71 points in the 117-88 blowout of the Knicks on opening night. This matchup made for great pregame hype, but New York wasn’t ready for this and no one should have been surprised.

Derrick Rose has barely had anytime to practice, let alone build chemistry, with his new team as he was tied up in the ultimate distraction of a sex-based civil trial that would have most normal people curled up in a corner for months afterward. Joakim Noah could be the ultimate player in needing team chemistry to be effective as his 0-6-3 in 20 minutes stat line illustrates. 52 points out of your starting five isn’t going to win many games.

It was never going to be easy for New York to grab a playoff spot this season, but no one should be taking Game One as an indication of what this group can accomplish. They just can’t fall too far off the map in the first couple of months while everyone figures out how to play together. A season opener against the 76ers or Nets would have been a little fairer under the circumstances.

Spurs 129 Warriors 100 isn’t how the new “Big 4” were supposed to open the season at home and the loss wasn’t all on the Big 4 as Curry, Thompson, Green and Durant combined for 82 points. As was “slightly” feared this summer, adding Durant decimated the bench and the Spurs reserves outscored the Warriors backups 54-16. Aldridge and Leonard looked great combining for 61 points, but the big plus/minus numbers in this game belonged to the second unit guys (on both teams). The Spurs Patty Mills was +35 while the Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala was -28. Bench chemistry matter too.

Unlike the situation in New York, the Warriors are going to win a lot of games on pure talent alone while they figure out how to make this new bench mob an effective unit. Absolutely no one will be crying about any early struggles this super team has to go through.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini




NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

Ranking The NBA Eastern Conference 2016-17

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up defeating the Golden State Warriors bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to the Eastern Conference, but the major question is what did the other 14 teams in the East do to keep the Cavs from repeating? Here’s an early season preview on each of the teams.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Key Additions- Mike Dunleavy Jr and Chris Anderson
Key Loss- Matthew Dellavadova

Outlook – LeBron James just re-signed and although J.R Smith hasn’t (he will), the Cavaliers are the defending NBA Champions with no major losses from last year’s team. Kyrie Irving has turned into a superstar point guard and could be best point guard not named Paul, Westbrook or Curry in the NBA. Dunleavy Jr. brings a solid 3-point marksman off the bench. Now the real question is will Kevin Love still be on this roster on opening night? If he is, then they should repeat with no problems.

2. Toronto Raptors

Key Addition- Jared Sullinger
Key Losses- Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola

Outlook – Toronto entered Free Agency with one major agenda and that was re-signing DeMar DeRozan as soon as possible. Well the Compton, California native didn’t entertain the chance to going back home and signed a huge contract to stay in Toronto. Playoff hero Bismack Biyombo got a huge payday from the Orlando Magic and the team lost a few spare pieces off a team that won 56 games and took the Cavaliers to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. So why do they stay at number 2? Well Jonas Valenciunas and DeMarre Carroll are both healthy and they added former Celtic Jared Sullinger to help in the forward rotation. Besides you have Kyle Lowry and DeRozan as your starting backcourt. There’s no need to go any further.

3. Boston Celtics

Key Addition- Al Horford
Key Losses- Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger

Outlook – Boston didn’t get Kevin Durant, but they got former Hawks All-Star Al Horford to come play in Beantown. The 31-year-old Horford, brings an interior presence, a solid team defender and inside/outside threat from the post. Armed with so many young players, they let Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger go in free agency, but 1st round pick Jaylen Brown should ease some of the load and remember the Celtics still have 1st time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and All-NBA Defensive wizard Avery Bradley as your lead guard rotation. One can only wonder when will Danny Ainge pull the trigger on a big trade for one more big fish to chase Cleveland and Toronto in the East.

4. Indiana Pacers

Key Addtions- Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson
Key Losses- George Hill, Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi

Outlook – No team was more active in the early part of summer than the Indiana Pacers. They made Draft day deals for Teague and Young and during the free agency period and added Al Jefferson from Charlotte. With the additions Teague and Young, the Pacers potentially the best starting 5 in the Eastern Conference. Jefferson brings one of the best low post games to the bench while they still have All-Star Paul George, the always dangerous Monta Ellis and the improving 2nd year stud Miles Turner. Remember CJ Miles and Rodney Stuckey will lead the bench unit along with Jefferson. The major questions is how will new head coach Nate McMillan turn this group into a Eastern Conference contender.

5. Atlanta Hawks

Key Additions- Dwight Howard and Jarrett Jack
Key Losses- Al Horford and Jeff Teague

Outlook – I know when you look at this your wondering why are the Hawks rated this high? Well, adding Howard is going to be bigger than most think. Howard, in this writers opinion, will turn back into the Orlando Howard. Yes he’s a bit older and a lot of his athleticism is gone, that doesn’t mean Howard can’t go back to 18 points, 12 rebounds and at least 2 blocks a game. Howard spending more time in the post will allow Paul Millsap to be able to have more space on the floor on the offensive side. Resigning Kent Bazemore was critical to this team upcoming success especially if one of the draft picks Taurean Prince or DeAndre Bembry can step into the starting Small Forward spot and allow Kyle Korver to come off the bench. But the evolution of Dennis Schroder into an upper ensulion Point Guard is the key for the Hawks to stay in this spot.

6. New York Knicks

Key Additions- Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee
Key Losses- Langston Galloway, Aaron Affalo, Robin Lopez and Derrick Williams

Outlook – New York made some major splashes and took some major risks in the process. By adding Rose and Noah from Chicago they are taking a big risk with guys with no good great injury histories. Noah has had one season since 2009-2010 of playing at least 70 games and we already know about Rose’s history. Bringing in Lee adds another solid role player who knows his role and plays it very well. If the Knicks starting 5 can at least by 65 games together, this ranking might be a bit too low.

7. Charlotte Hornets

Key Additions- Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions and Marco Bellini
Key Losses- Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee

Outlook – Charlotte did lose a lot this summer from a team that was one game away from being in the 2nd round of the Playoffs. So after losing 3 key members off last season’s team, how can they stay in the playoffs? Getting a full season from defensive wizard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the 1st reason. With MKG and Nicolas Batum manning the wings it allows for Kemba Walker to play the passing lanes, which creates more steals. Adding Roy Hibbert at center is a massive upgrade on the defensive side of the floor because Jefferson couldn’t really guard anyone in the post. The main problem once again is can this team score enough points to win. For Charlotte to take that step forward, it’s going to have to be a team effort and they have enough guys who can do that. Watch for Walker to be an All-Star this year.

8. Chicago Bulls

Key Additions- Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez
Key Losses- Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose

Outlook – The Bulls didn’t make the playoffs last year and they lost Pau Gasol among other players, but this team will end up outlasting Detroit to make the final spot in the playoffs. Any time you have All-Stars in Wade and Jimmy Butler it’s kind of hard to leave them out of the playoffs. Wade has something to prove as he was passed over for a major contract this summer. Now they are issues everywhere when it comes to the roster and the style of play that 2nd year Head Coach Fred Hoiberg wants to play. He wants to be a perimeter oriented team, well with Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo you won’t get that at all. None of the 3 of them are close to being 3 point threats. Good news for Bulls fans is with the losses of Gasol and Noah, the #FreeBobbyPortis movement can finally see the light.

9. Detroit Pistons

Key Additons- Jon Leuer, Ish Smith and Boban Marjanovic
Key Losses- Steve Blake and Anthony Tolliver

Outlook – Detroit made the playoffs last year and this unit is still young so they miss the playoffs for what reason? Well, Chicago added Dwayne Wade, New York has a better starting 5 and Atlanta and Charlotte are just better teams currently. Someone had to miss the playoffs. The Pistons can easily make the playoffs if Stanley Johnson and Kentanvous Caldwell-Pope can exceed expectations. What Detroit really needs is that star that can take games over in the 4th quarter. Andre Drummond is a free throw liability and Reggie Jackson is not a closer.

10. Orlando Magic

Key Additions- Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green
Key Losses- Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illavsova and Dewayne Dedmon

Outlook – Orlando made some interesting moves this summer to say the least. Good news is that they have the best shot blocking duo in the NBA, added a new Head Coach in Frank Vogel and they created a buzz in Orlando. Now here is the bad news, they don’t have a go-to-scorer, they have forced the potential face of franchise in Aaron Gordon to play out of position at Small Forward to get him playing time and have a serious issue when it comes to outside shooting. They added Jodie Meeks from Detroit, but he’s still hurt currently. Evan Fournier and Augustin are solid from behind the arc, but that’s really it. 2nd year Guard Mario Hezonja better make a tremendous leap or it’s going to be a long year in Orlando. To be honest, I’m not sold on the Biyombo signing, he’s needed but not at over $17 million per season.

11. Washington Wizards

Key Additions- Ian Mahinmi and Andrew Nicholson
Key Losses- Ramon Sessions, Nene, Gary Neal and Jared Dudley

Outlook – Washington has been going through the injury bug for years, especially with newly paid Bradley Beal. If All-Star Point Guard John Wall could finally get his main guys healthy long enough, this team has enough talent to potentially breakthrough and make the playoffs. New coach Scott Brooks is very good at getting the most out of his teams and if gets this unit in the playoffs, then he should be a serious candidate for Coach of the Year. If Beal and others can’t stay healthy, Wizards fans will be looking forward to next years draft.

12. Milwaukee Bucks

Key Additions- Matthew Dellavadova and Mirza Teletovic
Key Losses- Jerryd Bayless, OJ Mayo and Grievis Vasquez

Outlook – For a team that has one of the best groups of talent in the NBA and were in the playoffs 2 years ago, to be out of the playoffs for potentially a 2nd season in a row is head scratching. Lets be honest, the major hole on this roster was at point guard going into the summer. They went out and drafted Thon Maker (a 7’0 power forward/center) in the lottery, let Bayless and Vasquez go to other teams and went out and overpaid for Dellavadova from Cleveland. They would be better, if Michael Carter-Willams played with a pulse or the team could acquire a point guard for out of place Big Man Greg Monroe. Otherwise it could be a wasted year for young studs Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee.

13. Miami Heat

Key Additions- Dion Waiters, Derrick Williams and Wayne Ellington
Key Losses- Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson

Outlook – It could be a long year in South Beach in 2016-2017 for Heat fans. They have lost the face of the franchise in Wade, key veterans in Deng and Johnson and they still don’t know about the health of Chris Bosh. This spells a recipe for disaster for head coach Eric Spolstra and company. On a positive note, this youth movement will allow Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson to grow as the leaders with Hassan Whiteside anchoring the low post.

14. Philadelphia 76ers

Key Additions- Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson
Key Loss- Ish Smith

Outlook – For the 1st Time in years the Philadelpha 76ers aren’t the worst team in the NBA. They added Ben Simmons, Saric and Joel Embiid to the front court that already has Nerlens Noel and Jahil Okafor in the rotation. Now if they can either be bad for one more year and draft a guard of the future or deal a big man or two to get an established one, then we are talking something special in Philly. Simmons alone is one of the few players worth getting NBA League Pass for in the upcoming season.

15. Brooklyn Nets

Key Additions- Jeremy Lin, Grievis Vasquez and Luis Scola
Key Losses- Jarrett Jack, Thaddeus Young and Wayne Ellington

Outlook – It could get really ugly in Brooklyn this year. I mean REALLY UGLY. They tried and failed in free agency, offering contracts to Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe only to have them matched by their teams. Their previous 1st round pick went to Boston and their upcoming pick will in most cases head right back to Boston as well. Unless the Brook-Lin connection is the basketball version of wrestling’s Rock and Sock Connection, they will not get out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference.



Danny Thompson Full Court Press Radio hostDanny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist for FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.





NBA Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James and Kyrie Irving

NBA Eastern Conference’s Best Starting Lineups 2016-17

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

Barring in major trades or injuries between now and the start of the NBA Season at the end of October, most teams across the league have their starting lineups pretty much in place.

Starting units are very important. Just ask the Detroit Pistons, who had one of the the best starting lineups last year by many metrics, which carried them to the playoffs despite having one of the worst benches by those very same metrics. Who has the best one currently in the Eastern Conference? Number one should be no surprise:

1. Cleveland – Kyrie Irving, J.R Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson

They are the defending champions, so why wouldn’t they be at the very top. With Thompson and Love, teams have a hard time grabbing rebounds against them. We all know that Smith can go off from behind the arc at any point in time and Irving has entered the discussion being a top 5 point guard. By the way they have LeBron James on their team as well.

2. Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Jared Sullinger and Jonas Valanciunas

This unit made the Eastern Conference Finals without Carroll or Valanciunas being anywhere near healthy. DeMarre Carroll was brought in to be a defensive stopper and glue guy, and this will be the year he makes good on that reputation. Sullinger brings another scoring threat who can take pressure off the Eastern Conference’s best backcourt.

3. Indiana Pacers – Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner

So much talent here among this group of five. The three returning starters, Ellis, George, and Turner are very good. George is an MVP candidate, Turner could very well be the 2nd best player in his draft class, and Ellis is still a dangerous scorer. Now they add Thaddeus Young and Jeff Teague to the mix? This Pacer team has a group that could be very special.

4. Detroit Pistons – Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris and Andre Drummond

Detroit had one of the best starting 5’s in the NBA after they traded for Harris at the deadline, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be in the top five now, giving the young age of this group. Caldwell-Pope is the real key for the Pistons this year.

5. Boston Celtics – Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson

This rating would be higher if they can find a way to replace Johnson without having to move Horford away from the Power Forward spot. Johnson is a talented defensive player, but he has a lot of issues especially with fouling that keeps this unit from being higher. Like last year’s Warriors, The Celtics best lineup may not be the starting one, given the strength of Boston’s guards.

6. New York Knicks – Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah

This team would be higher on this list, but there are so many injury flags with this group. If Rose and Noah can each play at least 65 games with this unit, Porzingis continues to develop, and Carmelo decides to lead this group like he’s leading Team USA this summer, then this rating is too low.

7. Charlotte Hornets – Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Ghilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller

Charlotte has one of the best defensive units in the league, especially with Kidd-Ghilchrist coming back off of injury. Batum, along with the departed Jeremy Lin, allowed Kemba Walker to play off ball a lot last season, which helped Walker to have the best season of his career. Williams is very underrated at Power Forward, and Cody Zeller has to step up and play at an even higher level if the Hornets want to back in the playoffs.

8. Chicago Bulls – Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez

Fred Hoiberg wants a team that can go up and down the floor and be able to hit outside shots. The major issue is, well, none of the five listed here can do that. Maybe a style change will be in order in Chicago.

9. Milwaukee Bucks – Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe

This could be worse, Jason Kidd still wants to run Giannis at Point Guard and then this unit would have to use Rashad Vaughn or John Henson in the starting lineup. But the current 5 here is solid, especially if Carter-Williams can go back to his 76ers rookie season numbers.

10. Atlanta Hawks – Dennis Schröder, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard

Kyle Korver will start the season at the shooting guard spot until one of the rookies ( Prince or Bembry) can adjust to the small forward spot which will allow Kent Bazemore to move to shooting guard. Millsap and Howard are All-Stars and Schroder is going to be very good in his first year as a full-time starter.

11. Washington Wizards – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Jr., Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat

The talent is there, but there are glaring issues. Bradley Beal hasn’t proven to be a consistent 70+ game a year player, but Markieff Morris should have a better season after looking lost after the trade to Washington. Wall is one of the top Point Guards in the league and Gortat was outstanding last year which was a good thing. Now, if Beal can live up to his contract and Porter can finally live up to his 3rd overall draft pick from a few seasons ago, then Washington could get back into the playoffs.

12. Orlando Magic – Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic

After a season of having poor paint defense, they traded for Ibaka to be able to play beside Vucevic. Payton has very good court vision, but still haven’t proven to be a good shooter. Fournier had a career year last year after being given starters minutes and will put up simlar numbers this year. The key for success is Gordon’s adjustment to the Small Forward spot.

13. Miami Heat – Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Chris Bosh* and Hassan Whiteside

I know there is an asterisk beside Bosh’s name; We don’t know if he is going to play at all this year. Whiteside is an elite defensive center and Dragic is a solid point guard, but the youth of Richardson and Winslow playing major minutes is going to be the key in Miami this year. Without Bosh, you’re looking at either Derrick Williams or Josh McRoberts at Power Forward.

14. Philadelphia 76ers – Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel

The 76ers are so imbalanced right now; all of their talent is in the front court positions. If they can flip a big man or two for help in back court, then this rating is bit low. Simmons has so much star potential, it’s ridiculous. Having Henderson and Bayless off the bench is fine, but starting is not a good sign.

15. Brooklyn Nets – Jeremy Lin, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trevor Booker and Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez is a very good center, and Lin is an upgrade over last years group of Jarrett Jack, Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan. Hollis-Jefferson is a solid wing defender, and Booker can provide a decent option at Power Forward. All five of these players are certainly fine on their own, but outside of Lopez, are all fringe starters.



Danny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist of FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.





NBA New York Knicks Derrick Rose

Can The Knicks New Super Team Beat The Raptors?

This season the New York Knicks will be better, a lot better than 32 wins and 13th place in the Eastern Conference, and it’s obvious just improving on last season isn’t what president Phil Jackson was shooting for when he found ways to add Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee this summer. The Knicks are now a self-described super team, but have they improved enough to stop the Atlantic Division winning Toronto Raptors from a four-peat?

Rose is showing an extreme level of confidence in his new team according to Lang Whitaker of NBA.com

Rose: “I mean, with these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams, … And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win.”

It almost isn’t fair to rain on any team’s parade after what should be described as a pretty successful off season retooling effort, however, it isn’t going to be easy for the Knicks to make major strides in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics added a badly needed veteran star and they won 48 games last year and the 56 win Raptors shouldn’t be expected to take a step back. If the Knicks are going to make any inroads here, they are going to have to get things together really fast in October/November.

Rose: You’ve got Brandon who just signed for one year, he’s got to show why he’s there. I’ve got to show why I’m there. Joakim has to show why he’s there. Everybody’s trying to prove themselves.

Jackson already has a $100 million payroll for the upcoming season, but with both Rose and Jennings coming off the books in a year, if things don’t work out as well as hoped, he can try retooling again next summer. As Rose says, the pressure is on the players to show why they are there, so maybe he should have kept those “super team” thoughts to himself?

Derrick Rose

Rose was an MVP, but that was a long time ago in basketball terms and a seemingly endless list of injuries and setbacks have caused him to miss a lot of games over the past four seasons. Recent years suggest he’s closer to a 16-17 point 4.5-5 assist point guard than the 22-25 point 7.5-8 assist All-Star prior to getting hurt.

It’s not that the Knicks can’t win with Rose playing at this new lower level of production. He’s still very effective – when he’s on the court. The real concern is can Rose accept his new reality?

Will Rose play off the ball more to save his knees? Will Rose drive and dish before trying a risky move to beat that last defender? The former All-Star could be just one hard plant and turn away from another knee injury and if he doesn’t adapt his game to avoid putting himself at risk, he could prematurely end his career or from a Knicks point of view, just miss too many games and cause his team to fall out of the playoff race.

Rose seems to think he has to prove himself and he doesn’t. There are lots of things he can do to help the Knicks win without putting that kind of pressure on himself.

Joakim Noah

The Knicks signed the 31-year-old Joakim Noah to a four-year $72 million deal and if signing older centers coming off serious injuries has a familiar ring to it in New York, it should. The Knicks have been down this road before.

Noah had knee surgery two seasons ago and lingering concerns about knee soreness bled into last season, then shoulder surgery ended his season last year. If one looks at Noah’s basketball resume, he should have gotten $100 million over four years or more, so Jackson signed him at a big discount based on his talent, but there was a reason the Knicks got a bargain. Noah comes with some big risks.

If it wasn’t for the Knicks history of taking these kinds of risks in the past, it would be easy to dismiss any concerns with the assumption the team’s medical staff vetted the player’s health. However, it’s just hard to shake the thought they rolled the dice again.

Brandon Jennings

Jennings is coming back from a torn Achilles and history shows no one knows what to expect. It could take a couple of years for Jennings to regain the speed and mobility that made him a disruptive force – or not.

A role coming off the bench is perfect for Jennings. If he’s healthy, he should tear up backup point guards and if he doesn’t have it? Jackson only has him on a modest one-year deal. It’s a good risk.

Assume everyone shows up to camp healthy and stays healthy. The next big issue for the Knicks is simple chemistry. These guys haven’t played together. Even the Big 3 in Miami took half a season to figure out how to share the ball and be effective and no one should be comparing the risks the HEAT took putting together LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the risks Jackson is taking adding Rose and Noah to Carmelo Anthony and company.

Winning the Atlantic Division by overtaking two teams with solid winning records that are bringing back substantially the same rosters isn’t likely to happen, even if things go relatively well for the Knicks right from the start.

The Knicks focus has to be on the second half of the season and the playoffs. Stay healthy and figure out how to play together over the first 40 games without falling too far off the playoff pace and then push for the best playoff seeding that’s reasonably attainable.

Knicks fans have reason for optimism. This is more talent than they’ve seen on their team for a while. However, optimism shouldn’t be translated into pressure. Success for the Knicks isn’t becoming the next “super team” right away.

Success is building team chemistry, finding a way to keep their new found talent healthy and making the postseason. One step at a time. And somebody needs to convince Rose he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. He just needs to make shots, facilitate the offense and stay on the court.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini




NBA Derrick Rose

Playoff Expectations For The Knicks In The Upcoming Season

By Francis Paul

The New York Knicks are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history and with that being said, changes were going to come. New York has made a ton of offseason moves to try and turn this team around.

Right before the NBA draft, New York made news by trading for former MVP winner Derrick Rose. In the trade, the Bulls sent Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second round pick to the Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant. Right now this trade will help the Knicks win more games, however, this does not help them in the long run unless Rose can find his old form. The old Rose would definitely pay off long term, but he has had a lot of injuries so we don’t know if he can be the player of four years ago or not.

In free agency New York signed Joakim Noah to a four year $72 million deal. As a big, Noah can defend, he knows the game and is one of the better passing bigs in the game, but just like Rose, Noah has had his health concerns as well. Since the 2014 season, Noah has struggled to stay in the lineup due to injuries. However, I think Noah can be a leader on this team and can help guys like Porzingis to develop. This is definitely an upgrade that will help New York, but it’s not a sure thing that will take them over the top.

The Knicks also signed guard Courtney Lee for four years and $40 million. In my opinion, this is a great move for the Knicks. Lee is a solid player to bring off the bench who can give you some scoring because he can shoot the three-ball effectively. He won’t be the main guy New York runs their offense through, but he will open the floor for the rest of the team.

Another important signing for the Knicks was bringing in Brandon Jennings for one year at $5 million. Even though New York is a big market there will be less stress for him there as he will be coming off the bench in a backup role to Rose and he won’t be the primary scorer. However, once again this signing is a huge risk because if he can’t be healthy, someone else will have to step and fill his void. Jennings has missed most of the last two years due to a ruptured Achilles.

Lastly the Knicks brought back Lance Thomas for four years and $24 million. This was quietly a good move for New York. Last season he was arguably the best defender on the team and Thomas drained nearly 40 percent of his three-point shots. At 28-years-old he is still developing and working on his game and with the rise of the salary cap, this was a cheap signing for the Knicks.

The Eastern Conference is going to be a dog fight. Cleveland will be the favorites going into the season as they are the defending champs. Indiana improved their roster by adding Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson. The Toronto Raptors, even though they lost Biyombo, still have their core together and Boston made a big move by signing Al Horford. That’s a big signing for the Celtics because they were in need of a quality big man. So when you look at the Knicks, they will be right in the pack with a bunch of very good teams.

Even though the Knicks did not get a sure-fire big name, this is a team that could make their first playoff appearance in three years. All these changes show they are ready to win now.



Francis PaulFrancis Paul is an aspiring freelance NBA journalist who has previously published on Vavel.com

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini



NBA Indiana pacers Boston Celtics Portland Trail Blazers Evan Turner

NBA Free Agency Deals – They Must Be Mad List

Salaries of NBA players in free agency were going to go up this summer. We knew this. The Salary Cap rose by over $20 million, so teams had more money to spend and the current collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners splits revenues about 50/50.

Most of the deals agreed to only look expensive when compared to past seasons, so don’t get your shorts in a knot over most of those big contracts being handed out, that’s just the new reality. They’ll be even bigger next summer.

However, that doesn’t mean every deal made was a good deal. This summer is no different than past summers in that respect. Some teams just can’t stop themselves.

New deals on the “What were they thinking – they must be mad” list include:

Los Angeles Lakers
Luol Deng 4-years $72 million
Timofey Mozgov 4-years $64 million
Jordan Clarkson 4-years $50 million

The Lakers headed into free agency suggesting they’d be prudent and cautious, then Mitch Kupchak lost his mind. So much for protecting salary cap space for next year’s really impressive crop of big name free agents.

Luol Deng at 31-years-old is in obvious decline. He’ll give you what he’s got and he’ll be a good veteran, but at $18 million per season …. really?

Do the Lakers know Timofey Mosgov is a career 6.9 point 5 rebound center?

The Jordan Clarkson deal is steep, but it’s for your own young player putting up good stats on a bad team, so you have to hope the GM knows what he’s doing in this case. (Not feeling all that confident right about now.)

Utah Jazz Joe Johnson 2-years $22 million

The 35-year-old Johnson’s stats have been in steady decline for 4 straight seasons – even taking that slightly better 24 game stint in Miami into account. He’s probably a nice steadying influence on a young team, but get used to the 40 percent shooting he was putting up for the Nets as that’s his reality and it’ll continue to get worse.

New Orleans Pelicans Solomon Hill 4-years $48 million

Hill averaged 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds with the Pacers last season and the only saving grace to this contract is Hill’s age. Hopefully he’ll get better – a lot better.

Portland Trail Blazers Evan Turner 4-years $75 million

So the list of top flight free agents wasn’t all that long this year, but that’s no reason to spend $19 million per season on a 10 point 5 rebound 4 assist guard like Evan Turner. This veteran will help Portland, he’s not a bad player or an unknown quantity, but he’s not a front line starter either and he’s getting paid like one.

Orlando Magic D.J. Augustin 4-years $29 million

$7 million per season isn’t big money under the new salary cap, but it’s money that should still get you a solid rotation player – a sure thing and D.J. Augustin is anything but a sure thing. Augustin’s impact on NBA rosters has been up and down like a toilet seat. Solid in Charlotte, awful in Indiana, nice in Chicago, Toronto cut him, okay in OKC, nice in Denver, couldn’t shoot again in his second stint in OKC. The Magic had better hope he’s a fit in Orlando because he’s theirs for the next 4 years.

The Tempting to Dump On Them List

New York Knicks Joakim Noah 4-years $72 million

If Joakim Noah is physically okay, no one will be laughing at the Knicks for this deal. If they got it wrong again? Everyone will be – “I told you so!”

Atlanta Hawks Kent Bazemore 4-years $70 million

$17.5 million per season just seems like a lot for a solid “3-and-D” wing who’s just okay at shooting the long ball and his three-point shooting percentages have been dipping in each of the past two seasons. Is betting on a 27-year-old to take their game up another notch reasonable?

Memphis Grizzlies Chandler Parsons 4-years $95 million

The Mavericks felt a little burned after giving Parsons a max deal to steal him away from Houston two years ago. Will The Grizzlies feel the same way two years from now?

Conley, DeRozan, Drummond, Beal, Batum, Whiteside, and Fournier grab headlines because of the massive size of their pending new contracts, but these players were always going to get paid based on what the CBA permitted. The numbers are big, but no one should have been surprised.

If your team didn’t make a list, don’t worry. It’s still early in the process. However, the longer things go, the more likely any deal that gets signed will look like a good deal – for the team.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini





NBA Houston Rockets Dwight Howard

What No One Is Saying About Free Agent Dwight Howard

By Bill Ingram

How times have changed for Dwight Howard. It wasn’t that long ago that he was believed to be the key to winning an NBA championship. He helped lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009 and appeared to be headed for superstardom and regular appearances in the NBA’s Big Show. Unfortunately, his career hit a snag (or at least a Brendan Haywood elbow) when a back injury caused him to miss a huge chunk of the 2011-12 season. It turned out to be his final season in Orlando.

The Magic built a beautiful, state-of-the-art arena for him, they fired an outstanding head coach for him, and then, sensing his lack of loyalty, they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Heralded as the next dominant force in LA, another Shaquille O’Neal to pair with Kobe Bryant, Howard would spend just one season with the Lakers. The pressure of playing in LA and the constant pressure from Bryant to work harder and play better seemed too much for Howard, who managed just 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in a disappointing season for LA, which ended with a 0-4 sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite his struggles, Howard was the biggest name in free agency during the summer of 2013. He talked to a number of the interested teams, but ultimately chose Houston, where Chandler Parsons and James Harden had been heavily recruiting him for months. The Rockets, too, heralded Howard as the championship harbinger, with fans talking about him as the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon.

Once, again, however, Howard fell short of expectations. It wasn’t entirely his fault, of course, as the Rockets’ dysfunctional front office gave him an unproven head coach in Kevin McHale and shoot-first, shoot-second co-star in James Harden, whose unwillingness to feed Dwight the ball was matched only by his unwillingness to play defense. Howard’s play became every more uninspired, going from 18.3 points per game in his first year to 15.8 in his second and then 13.7 in his third.

So what’s next for Howard? He has the ability to opt out in July, and it’s extremely likely he will do so. Yet no one considers him a top free agent target, with Kevin Durant, LeBron James (also option), Andre Drummond (restricted) and even former Rockets point guard Mike Conley considered to be more desirable. With that in mind, we take a look at the best options for Dwight as he looks to get his career back on track.

1) The Houston Rockets

The first option, of course, is the Rockets, who would like to have him back and can pay him the most money. Mike D’Antoni is now in place as their head coach, and there’s a chance that he could have the same kind of impact on Dwight as he had on Amar’e Stoudemire, who was a force to be reckoned with in D’Antoni’s offense in Phoenix. That’s a stretch, though, as D’Antoni couldn’t squeeze that kind of play out of Dwight when they were both with the Lakers. Of course, there’s still the matter of Harden’s lack of team play, but the bigger issue is at point guard. The Suns had one of the best floor leaders of all time in Steve Nash, and no matter who the Rockets sign or acquire this offseason they will not have a Nash-esque floor leader when the ball goes up on the 2016-17 season. What’s most likely is that Dwight will leave $23.2 million on the table in Houston and take radically less to play elsewhere.

2) The Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was less than impressed when Howard refused to even meet with the Mavs before singing with the Rockets. A strong argument could be made that the Mavs were closer to competing for a championship with Dwight in the mix than Houston was. The aforementioned Parsons has been in Dallas and still recruiting his friend, as he did in Houston three years ago. More importantly, for Dwight to return to prominence he has to change his game and there is no one better equipped to do that than Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle. No coach in the league is as good at analyzing a player’s strengths and weaknesses and using that analysis to maximize their effectiveness. He would ask a lot of Dwight, both on the court, in practice and in the locker room. He would demand that Dwight put himself second, become a good teammate and transform his game to be more than a dunker. He would demand that Dwight play hard on both ends of the court regardless of his touches. He would also make sure Dwight got plenty of touches in the right places. Like Houston, Dallas offers tax incentives that add to their overall attractiveness for a free agent. The Mavs aren’t contenders with Dwight in the mix, but they are far better than the Rockets would be with D2 back in uniform.

3) The New York Knicks

Most recently the Knicks have emerged as strong suitors for Dwight, and they have a solid case to make. Carmelo is still in his prime and one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA. He isn’t quite as inattentive to the defensive end as Harden, and he is a bit more willing to pass than Houston’s black hole. Derrick Rose is not the player he was before the knee injuries, but he is still a very capable floor leader and would make sure Dwight got plenty of looks right at the rim. Kristaps Pozingis had a stellar season and is reminiscent of the power forwards who benefitted from playing alongside Dwight in Orlando. The Knicks can also bring back elite shooter Arron Afflalo, giving Dwight plenty of options on the perimeter and therefore a little space to operate in the paint. Of course, there are issues in New York, too. If Dwight can’t get his attitude right or get his game back, he would struggle under the media scrutiny that comes from playing in the NBA’s largest media market. If Rose continues to struggle, the Knicks can’t just rely on Dwight or Carmelo to carry them. Finally, if Carmelo doesn’t play enough defense or pass enough for Dwight, their locker room will implode. It’s not a perfect fit, but there is interesting potential in New York.

At the end of the day, for Dwight to get his game back on track and return to the ranks of the NBA’s elite, he’s going to have to put his ego aside and start fresh. It’s going to take the right environment, the right coach, the right co-stars for that to happen, and the one place where all of those factors exist is in Dallas. The Mavs have had trouble landing their free agent targets, but there are plenty of reasons why they should land this one. It’s not a championship waiting to happen, but there are enough intangibles to make Dallas worth watching with D12 in the mix.



Bill IngramVeteran NBA journalist Bill Ingram has 14 years of experience in the public education setting, specializing in behavior management, and 17 years of experience covering the NBA.

(Reposted with permission from More Than Basketball)





NBA New York Knicks Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, What In The World Are The Knicks Thinking?

By Frank McLean

One day before the NBA draft the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls hooked up for the first big trade of the offseason.

The Knicks sent centre Robin Lopez, guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant to Chicago and in return, the Bulls sent guard Justin Holiday, the second pick in the 2017 draft and the big ticket item in the deal point guard Derrick Rose to New York.

Rose at 27 years of age is a former MVP and has one year left on his current contract at $21.3 million, but the knock on him is that he has a bad jump shot, can’t attack the hoop (any more) and does not play defense.

Oh and let’s not forget one important thing… He has a lingering bad knee.

When you look at the deal from the outside, this is just the latest dumb trade where the Knicks pickup another player who has bad wheels like Carmelo Anthony.

Rose first hurt his knee in the 2011-2012 season and when he came back, he had lost the speed he had when he came into the league.

The knee made him sit out the entire 2012-2013 season, play only 10 games in 2013-2014 and just a little more than half the games in 2014-2015, but at least this past season he was actually healthy enough to play in 66 of the Bulls 82 games.

For someone who the Bulls picked first overall in the 2008 draft, was the NBA rookie of the year and the 2010-2011 NBA MVP, the knee injury has made him a mere mortal.

In the first four years of his career he averaged 21 points and played in 89.4 percent of the Bulls games. Since then he has only averaged 16.9 points and only been able to suit up 38.7 percent of the time.

So when you look at his medical history you go great, he can’t stay healthy, hasn’t played a full season in over five years and if he gets hurt again and with Carmelo Anthony’s knee forcing him to miss time when the Knicks have to play on back-to-back nights, well this why this team keeps struggling.

This is a huge one-year gamble for Phil Jackson, and speaking of Jackson, he seems to be going against what he has said in the past.

First he wanted a coach who would worship his triangle offense. Then he hired Jeff Hornacek as his head coach. In the past Jackson has constantly told the media “I don’t need a point guard” – now he trades for Rose.

You wonder if someone other than Jackson is making these decisions? Like maybe Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan who thinks he is a basketball expert and the main reason the Knicks have stunk for the last 10 years or so.

The Knicks desperately want to make the playoffs this season. If this doesn’t work, they will be lucky to win 20 games.

However, there is an upside to this deal. The Knicks want to be a huge player in free agency next summer and getting the last three years of Lopez’s contract off the books, as well as Calderon and Grant, could leave them with just three players under contract and just $35 million in salaries when the salary cap is expected to be close to $110 million.

This future flexibility assumes Jackson (or Dolan) doesn’t wipe it out by signing guys (with issues) like Dwight Howard to a max deal this summer or maybe Rose’s former teammate and friend Joakim Noah who is coming back from injury.

Meanwhile over in Chicago the Bulls who finished ninth in the East and were supposed to be a major playoff player this year are shaking things up.

When Rose heard he was going to be shopped around in a trade he wanted to go to New York City. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Wednesday the club was eager to add Lopez, who he said adds “toughness” to the Bulls roster.

“As we said at the end of last season, we are committed to exploring every option to improve this team,” Forman said. “This trade is a significant step in that process. Our goal is to get younger and more athletic, and this trade moves us in that direction and allows us to start changing the structure of our team. In Robin Lopez, we are acquiring a starting center who is a good defender, good rebounder, and brings a toughness to our team. Jose Calderon is a proven veteran who can run an offense and knock down threes. Jerian Grant was high on our draft board last year as someone with a great skill set and positional size. All three players are great teammates and have tremendous work ethic, and we are excited to welcome them to the Chicago Bulls organization.”

Forman’s comment about work ethic is the key phrase here, when I talked to members of the Chicago media who cover the Bulls they all said to man that work ethic was something the Bulls did not have.

So in a nut shell this a great deal for a Bulls team who are trying to rebuild and bring some much needed character to a roster that had none. In New York, this is another deal where it looks like the Knicks are trying to put together a fantasy league roster instead one that can win in the NBA.

Editor’s Note:

Rose is also mired in a sex scandal set to go to trial when the NBA preseason starts in October as reported in the NY Daily News.

The Knicks aren’t just getting a perpetually injured former NBA MVP in the blockbuster deal that will bring Derrick Rose to New York − they are also getting yet another player mired in scandal.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald scheduled the trial for Oct. 4 − the same day the NBA’s preseason begins.



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini






NBA New York Knicks Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson As Coach Continues To Tease The Knicks

New York Knicks very senior executive Phil Jackson hasn’t coached in an NBA game since 2011. Now think about that for a minute, it’s 2016 and Jackson is now 70-years-old, but the lure or the flat out tease of one of the the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History (awarded in 1996-97) just refuses to go away.

Knicks hopefuls have seen Jackson as the savior of a team that last won an NBA Championship in 1973 and can only claim one good season in about 20 years, but not as the president/general manager he was hired to be. Jackson has been seen as a coach-in-waiting who can salvage what’s left of Carmelo Anthony’s stagnatant career from becoming almost meaningless and turn the rest of the Knicks collection of spare parts from chicken-sh!+ into chicken salad (to coin a phrase).

Nothing illustrates the hope in New York better than a recent series of tweets by the author of “Michael Jordan, The Life” Roland Lazenby,

The is no mistaking the lure of the “Zen Master” and his 11 NBA titles as a coach, but Father Time remains unbeaten and eventually even beats up on the guys who are no longer playing on the court.

His legs have more artificial parts than natural ones at this point and even just walking doesn’t come easily any more for Jackson. His right hip was replaced in 2006, left hip in 2007, plus multiple knee surgeries including knee replacement in 2012 and 2014. He’s had prostate cancer surgery as well in 2011 and that comes with its own lifetime worth of issues to deal with as well. It’s worth remembering those additional parts will wear out and Jackson will have future dates with a surgeon to get new joints.

The concept of building a team by fooling NBA free agents into thinking Jackson is going to coach next season would require players and their agents to suspend their belief in reality and ignore Jackson’s own words.

Jackson has been asked if he plans to return to coaching on a regular basis since he quit and once again confirmed that wasn’t going to happen after Derek Fisher was fired.

“It’s not in my physical capabilities,” Jackson was quoted in USA Today.

To which the only appropriate response at this time would be, ‘duh’ and stop asking already. It’s been five years now.

Jackson actually taking on coaching duties outside of his office takes a lot of imagination even if he has a host of associate and assistant coaches helping him. A healthy 70-year-old would have to be more than just a little worried about the stress of working directly with egotistic teenagers and twenty-somethings every day and coaching from your office sounds a lot like a meddling hands-on general manager and that’s not a scenario anyone should feel comfortable with.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




NBA New York Knicks Robin Lopez

Knicks Robin Lopez Is Thriving On Broadway

By Frank McLean

In another stinker of a year for the New York Knicks in which they are in the midst of losing 14 out of their last 17 games to fall out of playoff contention, and the firing of head coach Derek Fisher, not many things have gone right. On Broadway, a thriving Robin Lopez represents one of the positives.

Even before the season started Knicks basketball Czar Phil Jackson took a lot heat from fans and media and very quietly Carmelo Anthony for his selection of Kristaps Porzingis in the first round of the draft, but that move has turned out fine too.

Heck Anthony and Porzingis actually like each other and Porzingis told the New York media last week that he didn’t want Anthony to be traded by the team.

Jackson’s move to sign free-agent center Robing Lopez from the Portland Trail Blazers on a four year 54-million dollar ticket during the summer was a lot quieter. At least no one was screaming into the void about it.

Lopez was the bottom man on the totem pole for the Blazers as he was the fifth option on offense for head coach Terry Stotts, but Jackson saw something in Lopez where he thought he could thrive in the triangle offense and he has not disappointed.

Lopez has averaged nearly 10 points and seven rebounds a game this season to go along with a team best 54.6 percent shooting and his numbers have gotten better as the year has progressed. In his past five games Lopez has been particularly dominant, averaging 15.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and shooting 69 percent from the field. He fits in the low-post which is a must for the triangle to work.

Lopez is happy in New York even though the Blazers are sitting in seventh spot in the Western Conference which is a surprise to many after that team purged itself of four of last season’s starters. Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum are all gone.

“No doubt, not at all,’’ Lopez said when asked if there were any regrets by the Knicks media. “I’m happy to be here. We got great guys, great pieces. We’ve shown flashes of what we can do. We just have to be more consistent. I don’t think anybody likes losing. We’ve doing some positive things — just not consistently enough.

“I’m getting opportunities, guys are looking for me, but I’d be much more content even if that production was half of that and we were winning some ballgames. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win.’’

On his offensive production Lopez praises his teammates.

“I’m getting a lot of opportunities, guys are finding me. They have confidence in me. I have a lot of confidence in myself right now. There’s a strong element of trust between myself and some guys on the team right now.’’

“I had a different job in Portland,’’ Lopez added. “With LaMarcus, Wes, Nick, Damian (Lillard), we were pretty set offensively. I knew what I could do off offensive rebounds and drop offs. That wasn’t the focus of my game there. I’m consistently doing different things offensively here than I have in the past.’’

Lopez is actually pumped about the Knicks future and he is very serious about that.

“I’m very excited for the future. Based on the quality and kind of guys we have right here, yeah, I think if that’s consistent with whom we get this summer I’m very excited.’’

“I do honestly (think we’re on the right track). We’ve done some great, positive things. I think it’s a matter of consistency. We need to figure out what we were doing earlier in the season. The potential is there for us. That’s why it’s so disappointing we’ve been losing these games.”

The Knicks do not have a first round draft pick this year. The Toronto Raptors have that.

Lopez along with Anthony and Porzingis are the only players who will still be under contract for the Knicks when the 2016-17 season ends. So there still are a lot of questions about the Knicks.

Porzingis and Lopez will be there after next year, but what about Anthony? He is the wild card here. Will the Knicks trade him? Or does Anthony’s surgically repaired knee stay together and let him continue his career?

What about Jackson’s future as President of Basketball Operations?

Before the season, Madison Square Garden head James Dolan gave the Knicks a playoffs or bust order.

Dolan is like the late Harold Ballard, prior owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a loose cannon. Nobody would put it past him to fire Jackson before he can finish his rebuilding plan.

Or Jackson could just get fed up with Dolan and tell him to stuff it and go back to his ranch and retire.

Time will tell how this plays out, but one thing for sure, it looks like Jackson got it right with Lopez, just like he did with Porzingis.



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.