Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks 10/20/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The New York Knicks looked to score a preseason victory Monday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Knicks looked to continue putting last season’s dismal effort behind them and faced a tough test from a rebuilding Bucks squad.

Watch the video for full highlights. 

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Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert Wears Hat with a Clock on It

New York Knicks wing Iman Shumpert doesn’t wear this hat during games because the only time that matters is game time.

After Monday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Shumpert was in the locker room wearing this hat with a clock on it. You can see another picture of the hat below.

I wonder if the ticking gives him a headache. 

[Twitter]

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Predicting the Good, the Bad and the Ugly for the 2014-15 New York Knicks

The New York Knicks enter this season with hopes of returning to the playoffs under first-year head coach Derek Fisher. Can Carmelo Anthony and his squad fight their way back into contention?

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal joins Stephen Nelson to predict the good, the bad and the ugly for the upcoming Knicks season in the video above.

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Has Preseason Revealed New York Knicks’ Best Fit at Center?

Tyson Chandler‘s departure left a question mark in the middle for the New York Knicks, but there are some viable replacements currently on the roster. 

Samuel Dalembert and Jason Smith may not be former defensive players of the year, but both men are solid enough to hold the middle down for the time being. 

New York needs rim protectors and hard-nosed defense in the post, and each man fills some of those voids.

 

Samuel Dalembert

Dalembert is at his best as a weak-side shot blocker, but he isn’t exactly a slouch as a rim protector.

His attitude and passion can fluctuate at times, but when he’s focused and happy, he’s a solid stop-gap replacement for Chandler.

Former Knick Willis Reed had some encouraging words to say about the newcomer:

Dalembert runs the floor well, and he finishes around the rim. He’s made 10-of-14 field goals thus far and has taken advantage of the easy looks he’s received. 

Unlike Chandler, he’s also worked on his jumper a little, via BasketballInsiders.com“I’m not necessarily a scorer, but in this offense anybody can be open. It’s so versatile as a big. That’s why it’s really good that we work on our shooting because when we get the opportunities or wide open shots, we’ve got to be able to make them at a high percentage.”

Smith, however, is more polished offensively.

 

Jason Smith

Smith may not have the explosiveness or leaping ability that Dalembert possesses, but his offensive repertoire will do wonders to help spread the floor for New York. 

The newcomer has a tremendous mid-range jump shot that fits perfectly in head coach Derek Fisher’s triangle offense. 

In only a small sample size of two games, Smith has gone 8-of-16 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. He’ll be very useful in pick-and-pop situations, and his teammates can count on him to cash in on any open looks. 

Although he may not be as athletically gifted as some, Smith’s motor and toughness have him pegged as a consistent defender who can be counted on to be physical in the post, as well as on the glass. 

Smith could be a little too overzealous defensively at times—and a little too physical—but he isn’t afraid of confrontation. He is the antithesis of Chandler in that regard—he doesn’t complain or whine about contact, he simply does his job as best as he can. 

A combination of Smith and Dalembert will give New York a more balanced approach and outlook from the center position.

Both men run the floor well and are far better scorers than their predecessor. If they can be level-headed, the Knicks have two athletes who will impact the team positively each game.

This duo in the middle gives the franchise depth and reassurance that they won’t be pushovers for opponents. 

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Should Quincy Acy Start at Power Forward for NY Knicks?

Quincy Acy didn‘t join the New York Knicks under any ill-considered illusions. He wasn’t in town, wearing orange and blue, to compete for a starting job. He was just there as an energetic role player who would scrap and claw for minutes he might not ever see.

Turns out that may have been the illusion.

To the surprise of everyone—including Acy—who doesn’t base depth-chart projections off beard length, Acy has emerged as the “leading candidate” to start at power forward for the Knicks, according to the New York Post‘s Marc Berman.

“No I didn’t plan on coming here to start,’’ Acy said. “I planned on coming here and playing hard to earn minutes. I guess I impressed enough with my defense to earn a spot. I don’t know what coach got going if I’m starting or coming off the bench or not playing, but I’ll be happy.’’

While Acy‘s busy being happy, the rest of us will sit in limbo somewhere between confused and composed.

Is this for real? Is Acy actually starting? Or are we being punked preseason-style?

 

Foundation for Truth 

This revelation doesn’t come completely out of the blue; Acy has started in the Knicks’ last three preseason games. It’s also not as if the team has a lot of other options.

Andrea Bargnani, who has been nursing a hamstring injury of late, is not the answer to anything. The Knicks would be far better off chaining him to the bench. Amar’e Stoudemire is a former star power forward, but if the Knicks value continuity, starting an injury-prone and minutes-capped player pushing 32 isn’t the ideal route.

After Bargnani and Stoudemire, there’s—well, there’s no one.

Neither Jason Smith nor Cole Aldrich can play power forward, and the Knicks are overrun with wings otherwise. Running smaller lineups will be an option throughout games, but Derek Fisher—and Phil Jackson by extension—appear hellbent on beginning with traditional setups.

Carmelo Anthony has spent the past few months under the guise that he’ll primarily play the 3 after two years of small ball, per ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk.

Indirectly naming Acy the starting power forward could be a way of trying to light a fire under Bargnani and Stoudemire, but it seems unlikely. There’s little reason to motivate Bargnani when he hasn’t even been playing, while the only things Stoudemire has going for him this side of 2010-11 are his work ethic and self-confidence. Plus, he hasn’t been given the chance to start yet.

Starting Acy has perhaps always been a more realistic option than most acknowledge given the dearth of alternatives. His endless supply of energy, meanwhile, has taken care of the rest.

There isn’t a play Acy takes off. He’s been one of the Knicks’ most active players during the preseason, running end to end, cleaning up the glass (five rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game), making his presence felt through effort and will.

And to that end, entertaining this idea is a nod to Acy‘s diligence, like NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin argued:

That has been the key — this feels a lot like how Kenneth Faried ended up a starter and key piece for Team USA at the World Cup. Injuries and defections opened the door for Faried, but his energy and rebounding turned out to be just what that team needed for glue and some inspiration.

Acy is bringing that to the Knicks this preseason —he goes all out every second he’s on the court. It’s not exactly something the Knicks have been known for in recent years. The Knicks traded for Acy this summer in a deal that was really more about dumping Wayne Ellington’s contract. Acy was seen as a slightly more efficient scorer than Jeremy Tyler plus a guy who busts it every time on the court.

Maintaing that animalistic work ethic makes Acy easy to like for coaches, players and fans. But the logic—even by the Knicks’ fluid, ever-changing standards—stops there.

 

On-Court Consequences

Standing at 6’7″, Acy is undersized for the 4. Anthony is listed as an inch taller, and the Knicks are trying to keep him at the 3.

Playing Acy at power forward further weakens their incompetent defensive attack. They finished 24th in efficiency last season, per NBA.com, and aren’t built to improve upon that mark by much, if at all.

Using Acy at the 4 actually pushes them in the wrong direction. The Sacramento Kings—with whom Acy appeared in 56 games last season—were noticeably worse with him on the floor, allowing 109.3 points per 100 possessions, the equivalent of having the league’s worst defense.

Being undersized, Acy isn’t going to block a lot of shots or protect the rim. Opponents connected on 52.7 percent of their attempts at the iron against him, according to NBA.com. That put him in the bottom half of individual rim protection among players who contested at least one shot per game and made 25 or more appearances.

The 24-year-old tweener is also foul-prone. He has wandering hands when defending isolations and post-ups, and he’s not quick enough to defend off the dribble. Guarding stretch forwards will be a problem because of their range; defending conventional bigs will be trying because of their size.

On the bright side, Acy isn’t supplanting a defensive sage. Stoudemire and Bargs don’t lock it down defensively either. Starting Acy merely reaffirms what’s already been suspected: New York isn’t going to play much defense.

But the Knicks do plan on scoring. That’s what the triangle is all about. For this team specifically it’s about promising Anthony the offensive help he’s never, ever enjoyed.

“I didn‘t want to have to do it night in and night out,” Anthony said ahead of the preseason, via Youngmisuk. ”I wanted some nights when somebody else can pick up the load. Right now, with the way we’re playing [in training camp], I don’t have to do everything.”

Inserting Acy into the starting lineup doesn’t keep in theme with the concept of providing help.

Per Berman, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Iman Shumpert and Anthony, in addition to Acy, are expected to round out the starting lineup. Only one of those five players is known for his scoring, and—surprise, surprise—it’s Anthony.

Dalembert isn’t a scorer by any means. Shumpert is a defensive weapon who sometimes scores but often goes stone cold. Calderon is easily the second-best scorer of this bunch, and his first instincts as a pass-first point guard are to defer.

More complicated still, this could-be starting lineup is a floor-spacing nightmare that only accentuates problems Jackson’s renowned triangle offense creates organically.

“The triangle is a famously complex offense, with numerous Goldberg-ian variations, and I will not claim to understand it in full,” writes Grantland’s Jason Concepcion. “Still, it’s clear that in emphasising post-up play, mid-range shots, and offensive rebounding, some tenets of the system are swimming against the tide of recent NBA trends.”

Replicating triangle systems of years past has never been an option. Not play-for-play. The modern-day demand for three-point shooting dictates they adjust the triangle’s foundation, even if only slightly.

That’s what they’ve done early on. The Knicks are attempting more than 20 threes a night during preseason play. Just three of Jackson’s Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers teams averaged more through their regular-season campaigns.

Catering to this need for distance shooting becomes almost impossible by starting Acy alongside his expected peers. He has three-point range in that he’ll shoot, but he’s jacked just 17 bombs over the last two seasons, hitting five.

Sense of Shumpert‘s career three-point splits—30.6/40.2/33.3 percent—is found only by those who mix Robitussin into their mayonnaise. Dalembert will sooner average 35 points per game than develop a dependable three-point stroke.

Anthony and Calderon would be the only reliable shooters, giving the Knicks two. That’s not the stuff successful offenses are made of in today’s three-point packed NBA.

Even if the Knicks were to focus on post and elbow touches, they would have issues. Most of Acy‘s and Dalembert’s career shot attempts—67.1 and 71.7 percent respectively—have come inside 10 feet. Anthony is the lone member of the predicted starting lineup familiar with scoring from the aforementioned locations.

If the Knicks plan on returning to the playoffs, they’ll need an elite offense. Rewarding Acy‘s tireless spirit with a starting spot, while admirable, doesn’t help them create one.

 

Real or Make Believe?

Pretending that we can read Fisher’s mind isn’t something worth pretending.

Regular-season basketball is still a ways off. There are still preseason games left to play; there are still questions left to be answered.

One such question still lies at power forward. There’s not sufficient evidence to guarantee Acy‘s role other than his streak of three consecutive starts. That’s it.

And while starting him helps bolster the Knicks’ second-string offense by (potentially) pinning Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the bench unit, it doesn’t elevate the ceiling of the opening five. That alone is enough to warrant suspicion to the point of belief—the belief being New York’s starting power forward spot remains up for grabs.

 

*All stats are from Basketball-Reference unless otherwise cited.

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Why J.R. Smith Should Be in New York Knicks’ 2014-15 Starting Lineup

To get the most out of the pivotal first season of the Phil Jackson era, the New York Knicks need to figure out how to control and unleash resident gunner J.R. Smith.

A humble suggestion: Start him.

If you’re finished unblowing your mind, note that so far there’s no indication the Knicks powers that be are prepared to commit to such a plan.

Per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com:

Jackson said Jose Calderon and Sam Dalembert will probably start at point guard and center, respectively. Derek Fisher has said that only Carmelo Anthony has a spot in the starting lineup at this point. He has been observing different lineups in training camp and the preseason. Assuming Fisher is on board with Jackson’s idea of starting Calderon and Dalembert, that leaves question marks at shooting guard and power forward.

Question marks at shooting guard apparently do not worry Smith, who’s bullish on the talent at his primary position, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com“I think there’s not a team in this league that has what we have at the shooting guard spot and I think that’s very unique … you should look at it as a dynamic trio like people do with running backs in football.”

Nice sentiment, but it’s pretty clear Smith should be the team’s feature back. Over the summer, he made it seem like that was his goal:

Hey, I get it; there’s a strong case for leaving Smith on the second unit. The guy earned his Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2012-13 because he was a potent scoring force off the pine. His game, which features many tough shots and few pangs of conscience, seems ideally suited for the sixth-man role.

He’s practically the model for the position.

For all that, there’s a stronger argument to be made for his fitness as a first-unit player.

Put most simply, Smith is the Knicks’ best shooting guard by a considerable margin, and it makes sense to put the best players on the floor from the opening tip. Smith’s player efficiency rating in 2013-14 (a down year for the 29-year-old, by the way) was 14.0, the highest of any guard on the Knicks roster, per Basketball-Reference.com.

His 3.7 win shares were also tops in New York’s backcourt.

If we leave the numbers alone for a moment (don’t worry, we’ll come back), we should next acknowledge that Smith just fits better with the members of the Knicks’ starting lineup already identified. In an ideal world, the Knicks should want Smith on the floor with players who can make life easier for him.

Anthony and Calderon are New York’s most dangerous offensive players, which means they’ll command most of the defensive attention—attention opponents won’t be able to spend on Smith. As the leader of a relatively punchless second unit, Smith has long been the focal point of most opponents’ schemes.

Plus, it seems the Knicks are committed to using Anthony as a small forward, which seems like a mistake but is a separate issue. The point is: Playing Melo at the 3 means one of either Andrea Bargnani or Amar’e Stoudemire will start at power forward, and neither of those players can stretch the floor.

And just to head this off at the pass, please refrain from calling Bargs a floor-spacer. Dude shot 27.8 percent from three last year and 30.9 percent the year before. No right-thinking defense views him as a perimeter threat.

Upshot: The Knicks need more shooting in the first unit—shooting Smith is best equipped to provide.

Iman Shumpert connected on just 33.3 percent of his triples last season. Tim Hardaway Jr. made 36.3 percent.

Smith knocked down 39.4 percent of his long-range tries in 2013-14.

The statistical case for Smith-as-starter only gets stronger the deeper we dive:

There’s a good reason Smith was so much more effective as a member of the first unit last year. Playing with better talent (which we’ve already mentioned draws more defensive attention) is a great way to keep Smith from giving in to his more destructive instincts.

With Melo and, in theory, Calderon on the court, Smith won’t be a primary ball-handler. He’ll still get loads of shots (note his higher usage rate as a starter last year), but they’ll be better ones. No more carte blanche to pound the dribble and fling up a 30-footer because no other options presented themselves. No more wild drives to the hole as defenses collapse off hapless teammates.

Instead, Smith can feast on spot-up shots and attack shifting defenses that have to play him honestly.

According to SportVU data provided to NBA.com, Smith was markedly better as a standstill shooter than he was off the dribble last year. He pegged 45.6 percent of his catch-and-shoot tries in 2013-14. Among Knicks who attempted as many such shots, only Melo topped that accuracy rate.

On pull-up shots, Smith made a woeful, though not surprising, 33 percent.

Summation: Smith can create shots, but he’s a lot more accurate when somebody else creates them for him.

If the concern is that the second unit might fall apart without Smith leading it, Shumpert and Hardaway were both better off-the-dribble shooters than Smith last year, per NBA.com. And while neither has the handle or strength to attack the basket as effectively, we shouldn’t expect the wheels to fall off without Smith running the show.

We’ve seen the numbers and digested the anecdotal evidence for Smith’s place in the starting lineup. There’s some compelling stuff there.

But if stats and reason don’t do it for you, let’s get touchy feely and see how that works.

So much of Jackson’s influence on the Knicks is about balance, about trusting a system and running an offense that maximizes contributions from everybody. The triangle is supposed to make a team function as a group. That’s the whole point.

Leaving Smith to his own devices as a one-man artillery unit off the bench cuts against the spirit of the triangle. It removes the sense of harmony Jackson so values. Making Smith part of a cohesive collective would be a triangle triumph—and perhaps the pressure of not screwing things up for the rest of the starters will keep him in line.

Smith needs to start. It’s the Zen thing to do.

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Anthony, Knicks beat 76ers 84-77 in preseason (Yahoo Sports)

SYRACUSE, NY - OCTOBER 14: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks drives to the basket past Luc Richard Mbah a Moute #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers during a preseason game at the Carrier Dome on October 14, 2014 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points in a successful return to his college home, and the New York Knicks beat the Philadelphia 76ers 84-77 in a preseason game on Tuesday night.


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New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers 10/14/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers squared off in a preseason clash on Tuesday night. The Carmelo Anthony-led Knicks looked to prove that last season’s struggles were a mere hiccup in their road to contention, but they faced a tough test from a young, talented Sixers squad.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Lou Williams scores 21, Raptors beat Knicks 81-76 (Yahoo Sports)

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Pablo Prigioni #9 of the New York Knicks handles the ball during a game against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on October 13, 2014 in New York City, New York. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Lou Williams scored 21 points and the Toronto Raptors beat New York 81-76 on Monday night in the Knicks’ preseason home opener.


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New York Knicks Should End Andrea Bargnani Experiment for Good

Andrea Bargnani has turned eight years of untapped potential and Teflon-thick expectations into an NBA career flush with constant reminders that, despite an infinite supply of mulligans, his star won’t ever reach its projected ceiling.

With that in mind and Bargnani’s plunge through the ranks being painfully obvious, the New York Knicks would be wise to abandon an experiment they never should have financed in the first place.

 

Regrettable Tenure

It’s cruel practice to write obituaries for 28-year-old prodigies who once drew frequent comparisons to the Hall of Fame-bound Dirk Nowitzki

Seven-footers typically cannot put the ball on the floor like Bargnani can. They don’t have the offensive range Bargnani does. Most aren’t as versatile as Bargnani, who is tall enough to jump at center and offensively rounded enough to play small forward or even shooting guard.

Some version of this rust-rotted ode to Bargnani’s skill set has been used leading up to and in each of his first eight seasons. You would think after all that time and all that money—more than $60 million to date—no team would need a crash course in the perils of using Bargnani.

Apparently the Knicks—specifically new head coach Derek Fisher—do.

“Andrea’s activity was good,” Fisher said following the Knicks’ first preseason game, a loss to the Boston Celtics, of Bargnani, per ESPN New York’s Ian Begley. “He was versatile, just like I’d always observed from a distance. He can shoot the basketball, he can put it down; he’s a matchup problem for other teams when he’s playing in the frontcourt at the 4, the 5.”

Sound familiar? Because it should. It’s the same old song for a ninth consecutive year. 

But here’s the thing: It’s time for a different tune.

One year into Bargnani’s Big Apple tenure it’s clear the plug needs to be pulled. There is no evidence to suggest that he can help this team, other than that timeworn song. The numbers actually argue the contrary.

Last season the Knicks offense was 6.8 points per 100 possessions better without Bargnani on the floor, according to NBA.com. Their overall field-goal percentage climbed, their three-point efficiency soared, their switch-tastic—and therefore incompetent—defense was a little less atrocious.

Forget defense, though. Just for a minute.

Offense is supposed to be Bargnani’s area of expertise. His team shouldn’t be that much better when he’s on the sidelines.

When the Knicks began their unsuccessful playoff chase, it was without Bargnani. Prior to him injuring his elbow against the Philadelphia 76ers, they ranked 19th in offensive efficiency. Through the 40 games following his absence, they ranked fourth.

Fourth. Their offense was statistically more efficient than the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s, Miami Heat‘s and San Antonio Spurs‘ during that time, all three of whom ranked in the top seven of this exact category for the entire season.

Coincidence?

Only if longstanding and legitimate trends can be classified as unhappy accidents.

 

Broken Record

None of this is new. Or news. Bargnani’s profoundly destructive transgressions aren’t unique to his time in New York. The Toronto Raptors are well-aware of how damaging his prolonged presence can be.

Look at how his teams have fared with him on and off the floor per 100 possessions since 2007:

Only twice in the last seven years have Bargnani’s teams posted better point differentials with him on the floor. Those Raptors teams were an average of 3.5 points per 100 possessions better with him on the bench. Throw in last season with the Knicks, and Bargs’ teams have fared an average of 4.0 points better per 100 possessions without him since 2007.

And yet Bargnani is still given second and third and fourth chances. Coaches and executives see his lifetime average of 15 points per game. They see the lone season he pumped in 21.4 points a night (2010-11), which came on a 22-win Raptors team. They see all these things and are compelled—or obligated—to tout the bright side.

There is no bright side anymore. Not for the Knicks.

Playing Bargs puts an already infirm defensive structure at risk. Imagine fielding him beside Amar’e Stoudemire at all. It would be a disaster, just like it was last season. The Knicks were outscored by an average of 15.3 points per 100 possessions with both in the game.

That isn’t going to suddenly change. Bargnani has never once proved he can help the team while playing alongside another big name. The Knicks were a minus-3.9 per 100 possessions with Carmelo Anthony and Bargnani last year, and the Raptors were a minus-2.2 with both him and Chris Bosh in their last season together (2009-10).

Not even Jose Calderon, one of Bargnani’s greatest proponents, has found success next to him. The last time they were both (semi-)healthy in Toronto (2010-11), the Raptors were a minus-5.2.

“Hopefully, I can help him again,” Calderon said of Bargnani, via Newsday‘s Al Iannazzone. ”I know it was tough for him with the injuries last year and never getting into a rhythm. Hopefully this year he’s back. He’s a great, talented player who can help us a lot for sure.”

Somehow, given all we know, excuses are still made and hope still held when both coaches and teammates should know better.

Mike Woodson is the most recent head honcho to ride the Bargnani excuse train aground. He closed out last season’s dumpster fire fixedly—and stubbornly—playing what-if cards that had long expired:

Different as in worse, maybe.

Never better.

This year brings nothing new. Bargnani isn’t going to suddenly be free of past stereotypes. The Knicks can only play him as a floor-spacing forward who doesn’t actually space the floor. He hasn’t converted more than 34.5 percent of his threes since 2010-11, and his mid-range touch is grossly exaggerated. Not even Jackson’s famed triangle offense can save him, as Bleacher Report’s Fred Katz explains:

No scheme is going to prefer a big man who hesitates before every pass and posted a 51.0 true shooting percentage against a 22.4 percent usage rate. He doesn’t like the corners, a place he may have to venture in the new offense.

It especially won’t help the slow-footed Bargnani that he’ll be expected to post up and rapidly switch from one side of the court to another if he’s going to be a go-to post option (hardly a guarantee with a new regime in New York).

At this point Bargnani isn’t even a one-way player. He has the same number of career offensive win shares as defensive (8.9), according to Basketball-Reference.com.

What he does—score inefficiently—won’t help the Knicks.

 

Final Farewell

Riddle me this:

“If a man labeled as a bad defender and three-point gunner is arguably worse at his proposed best skill than his biggest weakness,” wrote SB Nation’s Kevin Zimmerman in April of Bargnani, “what does that make him?”

Detrimental. That’s all Bargnani can be to the Knicks. It’s all he’s ever been and all he continues to be. It’s no surprise the Knicks looked awful in one preseason game with him then transformative without him while he nursed a sore hamstring.

Pushing this experiment any further offers no upside. Bargnani doesn’t fit into the triangle, and he most definitely doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans. He should be viewed as an expiring contract, as a misperceived player Jackson and Fisher inherited and nothing more.

Resurrecting his career—which was never truly alive in the first place—doesn’t promise anything other than worthless bragging rights. Once 2014-15 is over, Bargnani is gone. The Knicks can only succeed in making him a more expensive free-agency acquisition for another team.

Rather than give him valuable minutes in hopes that he experiences an unlikely turnaround, the Knicks should play those who may actually have a future in New York.

Run smaller lineups that give Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. an opportunity to play together. Slide Anthony to power forward and see how he performs alongside Cleanthony Early.

Do something, do anything, else.

Let last year’s downturn and the baseless offseason and preseason optimism be the merciful ending to something that never, ever should have been started.

 

*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless otherwise cited.

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