Change on the Horizon?
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Leave it to the Knicks to find a lineup combination that we hadn’t seen all season long to provide a tinge of excitement and dare I say intrigue on an otherwise solemn Wednesday night in late February.
In case you had better things to do (and judging by the number of people I see in my mentions who say they simply can’t watch this team anymore, you do), the Knicks came out last night and pooped all over the floor for the first 30 or so minutes of the game.
If every NBA player had a Bat-signal, Allonzo Trier’s would be when New York can’t score and looks flat against a team that lost by 49 points the night prior. It shone bright in the sky with four minutes to go in the third, and he did not disappoint.
Leave it to this darn to team to a) make us still care at all, but also b) make us continuously question the life choices we hold most dear.
Hating on Iso Zo was one of the easier decisions we had this season. He didn’t play defense and didn’t love to share - two things we all agreed the Knicks need to do with more regularity.
But in our (or at least my) rush to judgment, we forgot a few things as the season went along:
a bunch of guys on this team don’t play much defense, and
several of those same guys also hate to pass
Two of them had the spotlight on them for very different reasons last night: Bobby Portis, for giving us his biweekly episode of the Bobby Portis Show, and Julius Randle, for taking a seat on the bench with a few minutes to go in the third and not getting up for the rest of the game.
Regarding Randle, I’ve been a tad bit hard on him the last few days. Julius, if you’re reading, I promise it’s nothing personal, and is only because I have the misfortune of possessing two working eyes.
While neither Portis nor Randle are the answer to any question worth asking about this team moving forward, I’ll always wonder how this season would have gone had the Knicks invested in only one of them last summer and spent the money left over on the Iggy salary dump. Iguodala would have never reported, another 30 minutes of rotation time would have been opened up, and the Knicks might have been freed from iso hell just enough to resemble an actual team.
Alas, that didn’t happen. One of the results of what did happen is that Allonzo Trier was excised from the rotation entirely.
If you’re one of the Iso Zo truthers who insisted this team has been doing him dirty all year long, stand up and take your bow. What we saw last night, and for a few minutes at the end of the Houston game, was probably way, way overdue.
Trier didn’t record an assist last night, but for the most part he contributed to ball movement in a positive way. Like, this’ll work just fine:
His defense wasn’t perfect (he died on a screen late that left his man open for a three that helped seal the game for Charlotte) but again, other than Frank and occasionally Dotson (#FreeDot forever), what perimeter players on this team really give you plus defense anyway?
Which brings us to what I sincerely hope last night represents: a long overdue changing of the guard for this team’s rotation.
Are you sitting down? Well if not, find a comfy chair because it’s WILD AND WACKY SPECULATION TIME!!!!!
Yesterday Marc Stein confirmed my report from this weekend that Leon Rose will be officially taking over the team later this week, with Sunday as the presumed target date.
Leon Rose, like me, has eyes.
Unlike Scott Perry, Rose will have to use his eyes to continue watching this team for the foreseeable future, and likely has a vested interest in making more forward-thinking decisions, as opposed to ones designed to save his job.
Allan Houston, who we haven’t seen on road trips at all this season, accompanied the team on this one.
We know Stef Bondy reported a few weeks ago that Houston is likely to receive a promotion within the organization – a report he added onto by noting that Houston had recently spoken with one assistant coach from a successful team about how to build a winning organizational culture.
Marc Berman, meanwhile, reported yesterday that some NBA execs expect Rose to clean house quickly, and mentioned the scouting staff specifically.
Berman also noted recently that Rose could make changes to the rotations and give younger players more time.
Last night, for the first time all season, Julius Randle – the prize free agent signing of a front office duo that has already received one pink slip – spent the last 14 minutes of a close game on the bench, something that hasn’t happened once all season.
Allonzo Trier, glued to that same bench for months, even through several blowouts, got a real chance.
Speaking of Trier…
Mitchell Robinson, who also officially signed with Klutch a week ago, played the final nineteen minutes of last night’s game, and promptly responded with his highest rebound total of the season.
(Over the Knicks’ last 10 games, with Robinson on the court, the team has a 98.4 defensive rating. When he sits, it goes up to 118.1. Newsflash: Mitchell Robinson should play the last 17 minutes of every game.)
Put it all together, and would it be that nuts to assume the following:
Rose, perhaps through Houston, is already putting his fingerprints on the team’s rotations;
Those fingerprints include an olive branch to the one agency besides his own that can help make or break his fortunes as Knick President; and
Scott Perry’s decision-making power has already been drastically reduced, if not extinguished altogether?
As I’m apparently now someone who is at risk of getting aggregated, note that this is indeed nothing more than connecting the dots on my part.
But boy oh boy, do those dots form a fascinating picture.
More to come in the days and weeks ahead, I’m sure.
Joel Embiid, congratulations: you’ve been Mushed.
After I highlighted Embiid in this space yesterday, he went out against the Cavs last night and suffered a shoulder injury after playing just eight minutes and scoring three points. His status for tonight’s game against the Knicks is now in question.
Sorry big guy. I meant no harm, I promise.
In any case, with both Simmons and now possibly Embiid out, let’s turn our attention to one of my favorite players in the league, still available for under a buck even after getting a bump following last night’s game:
Josh Richardson has been relegated to a lesser role on this year’s Sixers, but he can still fill up a stat sheet with the best of ‘em (eight boards, four dimes, two steals and two blocks last night). If I were to make a PredictionStrike investment ahead of tonight’s game, it would be him.
News & Notes
compiled by Michael Schatz (@mschatz99)
Also, Ian Begley chimes in on the Leon Rose situation.
That’s it…see everyone tomorrow!