Posts Tagged ‘ Carmelo Anthony ’

THE UNFATHOMABLE JR SMITH

JR Smith is a superstar player. JR Smith should be a superstar player. JR Smith could be superstar. JR Smith has the ability to be a superstar player. JR Smith has the physical talent to be a superstar player. I think that’s enough modification. Should and could are words typically reserved for players who haven’t figured out the league yet. More times than not that’s players who have been in a professionally athlete for less than three or four years. JR Smith has been in the NBA since he was 18 years old. That’s nearly 10 years of experience on how the league works. I’ve never played 1 minute in the NBA, but I know that if my coach and the league warned me not to untie someone’s shoe during a game I wouldn’t do it the very next night. Therein lies the biggest problem with JR Smith. For all of his talent and ability, for all of his physical exploits and shooting prowess and “potential” he proves time and again that he can’t be that superstar player that he should, could or has the ability to be.

This of course goes far beyond untying shoelaces. That act itself, under other circumstances, probably wouldn’t warrant much negative attention especially if a player was making significant contributions between the lines.  But JR Smith has always had character issues while in the league. His ability to get hot and play like an all-star for stretches of games kept him in teams’ rotations for a lot of years, specifically in Denver and definitely in New York. But JR’s play is way down this season compared to what he did just a year ago. Last year JR Smith had his best season on both ends of the floor. He averaged 18 points per game,  had a player efficiency rating of 17.6 and turned the ball over at the lowest rate of his career. Defensively he was just as stellar averaging career a career high in rebounds (4.5) and tied his second career high steals (1.3). All of this was done with Smith coming off of the bench for the Knicks and it helped them win over 50 games.

But ever since he elbowed Jason Terry in the first round of the playoffs he hasn’t even been close to the player who won the Sixth-Man of the Year award in 2012. He finished the playoffs shooting 33 percent and 27 percent from 3-point range. Just to illustrate how far he has fallen you can look at his advanced stats. Offensive Win Shares measure how many wins  a player has contributed to his team with his offense. Last year his number was 4 (the highest in his career) this year…it -0.4. He’s literally cost the teams wins with how bad he is playing this season. Oh and his OWS in the playoffs last season…-0.5!

JR Smith was ejected and suspended an additional game for elbowing Jason Terry during the playoffs. (GIF via SB Nation)

So if you couple JR’s terrible play since April with his many mental mistakes it becomes clear that he isn’t proving to be the “changed man” that people were painting him as last year. There is a third piece to this puzzle though. When a player doesn’t perform well for a significant, that player typically loses playing minutes. If a player shows that he isn’t focused on basketball he can lose playing games. So why hasn’t JR seen any changes in his playing time? Head coach Mike Woodson. Mike Woodson has been a very public supporter of JR Smith and sometimes to a fault. Him believing in JR Smith was a big reason for JR elevating his play last year, but Woodson also claimed when he became a coach that he would hold all of his players accountable. In a game against the Houston Rockets JR Smith took an ill-advised 3-pointer with 19 seconds left and the game tied. JR said he thought the Knicks were down by two (which makes no difference), but to make it worse Woodson blamed Beno Udrih for passing Smith the ball. Woodson has become JR’s enabler. You can’t possibly expect a player to become better if you constantly make excuses for every foolish thing he does.

But at the end of the day it comes back to JR Smith. He’s a grown man and shouldn’t need to be reminded of what that entails as much as he does. I’ve been begging for the Knicks to trade him practically all season. With Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the team you could easily make up what you would miss from a fully functioning JR Smith. The Bockers are reportedly looking for trade partners, which has brought up the question: Who would want him? It’s a valid question because after 10 years all he’s shown fans is that he probably won’t be all the things that should, could and has the ability to be.

THE NUMBERS GAME

Lockout continues as the NBA cancels regular season games

There have been a lot of numbers thrown around as far as the NBA lockout goes, but as of Monday night the most important number is two. That is the number of weeks in the regular season that Commissioner David Stern has canceled after the league and players union left the negotiating table with no deal.
The next number fans will probably see is 103, which is the number of days the players have been locked out as of Tuesday. The two sides have yet to come to an agreement on issues regarding the salary split, luxury taxes and contract lengths. Stern told reporters he believed what was being proposed was fair and he is sad to see that both sides cannot agree. Union head Billy Hunter doesn’t see it that way at all.
“I’m convinced that this is all just part of the plan,” Hunter told reporters on Monday. “I think everybody’s waiting for the players to cave. They figure that once a player misses a check or two, it’s all over. I’m saying … that would be a horrible mistake if they think that’s going to happen, because it’s not going to happen. The players are all going to hang in.”
With the two sides significantly apart from each other in negotiations and no signs of an end in sight players are starting to put their eggs in other baskets. Several European born players like Rudy Fernandez (Spain) and Danilo Gallinari (Italy) have already signed up to play for their home countries. All-star point guard Tony Parker made headlines signing with a French team for less than $2000 a month. Deron Williams made his stunning announcement earlier this year by deciding to play in Turkey.
Meanwhile players stateside are keeping busy doing celebrity basketball tournaments for fans. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were just a few of the big names to play in the latest charity basketball game in Miami. But everyone involved, including the fans, knows that these are only temporary distractions. If the “significant gap” that has kept the players and owners from making a deal doesn’t close soon the next number we will see is 2012 as in the next time we will see NBA basketball.

 

Information from an ESPN.com report was used in this story.

Photo credit: Getty Images

MELLOW ON MELO..

Melo says "Dueces" to Denver as he makes his way to the Garden.

After months of speculation and rumors flying the basketball world, the “trade of the century”, has finally been completed. Brooklyn born Carmelo Anthony, one of the NBA’s premiere scorers and notable icons, is headed to The Big Apple to team up with friend and fellow superstar, Amare Stoudemire — just as Stoudemire predicted at Anthony’s wedding. Coming along with Melo from the Denver Nuggets are point Chauncy Billups, former Knicks forward Renaldo Balkman, forward Sheldon Williams, and the young swing man Corey Brewer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

What New York gave up is the problem I have. The ‘Bockers gave up three starters; point guard Raymond Felton, forwards Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph (to Minnesota) and centers Timofey Mozgov and Eddy Curry.

Originally reports stated that the Knicks’ front office was only willing to part with Randolph, Curry and either Chandler or Gallinari, because they didn’t want to “gut the roster”. However, as the deadline moved closer, Denver kept demanding that more pieces be added to the deal. There were even rumors that the Nuggets threatened to trade Anthony to the New Jersey Nets if their demands were not met.  But Denver was never going to trade with New Jersey because they had already tried twice and rumor has it that Carmelo would not have signed his 3-year $65 million extension with anyone but New York.

With all of that said, New York overpaid for Melo. Sure he’s a top 5 player and a dynamite scorer, but the other pieces don’t add up to what the Knicks had. Especially at point guard. Billups is more experienced, but he’s much older and may not be on the team beyond next season, which means the Knicks have to go out and get another point guard.

Carmelo Anthony..The Newest Knickerbocker

The other problem I have is the Isiah/Dolan factor. Donnie Walsh built this team from the ground up and James Dolan forced the issue to get Melo instead of trusting Walsh’s gut. Somewhat of a slap in the face to the man who ressurected the franchise.

The move could turn out to be a huge success and the Knicks could go on to win a championship within the next 3 years. But they could also under-achieve severely and that is the cardinal sin in NYC. We’ll just have to wait and see what Carmelo Anthony does in a Knicks uniform. One thing can be said for sure, all eyes will be on NY from here on out.

CP3 to NYC?

Chris Paul to The Empire State?

Don’t hold your breath Knicks fans.

If New Yorkers have learned one thing this summer it’s, “don’t believe it until they sign it” (see LeBron and Joe Johnson).

But, the Chris Paul situation is an interesting one. The all-star point guard has stated that he no longer wants to be a part of the Hornets and would like to be sent to NY, Dallas, Portland, Orlando or LA.

Some might say that this is a result of a toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding reception, when Paul, Melo and Amare said they were forming their Big 3 during a speech. Others may say it started when he saw how much attention his good friend LeBron received for “The Decision”. You could even speculate that it happened when he was on the redeem team in 2008 Olympics.

I personally think it started when New Orleans fired, former head coach, Byron Scott. That move basically said, “We’re no longer interested in winning,” and they haven’t been close since.

Now that Paul sees everyone else getting better he wants to join in on the action and rightfully so. Paul is the best point guard in the NBA and deserves the chance to be in a place that has winning as a top priority.

Unfortunately for Paul the Hornets aren’t stupid enough to give him up before the season like he’s asking. Why would they? And why New York? As much as I love the Knicks’ roster right now, they have nothing to offer New Orleans; especially if they plan on contending in the eastern conference.

As for Los Angeles and Dallas, I don’t think they would trade to a conference rival and have CP kill them in the future.

There are two scenarios that I see happening:

1. Paul plays about 20-30 games, the Hornets decide they won’t win either way and trade him to Orlando for Jameer Nelson, a wing player and possibly a draft pick. (Just imagine Dwight catching lobs from everywhere on the court for a second..)

2. Paul is forced to play the whole season and gets his trade during the 2011 off-season. (Assuming a bargaining agreement is reached by then.)

CP3 isn’t the type of player that will sit out and not play; he is too classy and too much of a team player to do that.

But, he will leave one way or another, whether it be through a trade or through his expiring contract in 2012.

The main point here is whenever CP3 leaves, I don’t see him going to NY.

Then again, nobody expected James, Wade and Bosh to be in Miami.