It is appropriate to fully assess the team on the last 11 games with a higher degree of importance than the first 22 under our previous “coach.”
At this point, there has been enough evidence to argue that the team is playing much better with Miller as the head coach. It’s certainly yielding promising results and after and 11 game sample size the numbers are building a case for Miller’s position long term. Should the results continue despite the record, this team is 5 – 6 in their last 11, they’re only 5 games to the 8th seeded Orlando Magic. Further proving the point the Hawks just beat the Magic (12/30) further giving some faint (desperate) playoff hope for anyone in the East. Those changes can fall upon moving players who’ve reportedly wanted out, notably Marcus Morris, Dennis Smith Jr., and quiet mummers about Bobby Portis.
Even that itself can be a blessing and while there has been a better play, there are still problems needing attention. Too soon to say, but with 2nd round rookie Ignas Brazdeikis and the Knicks two-way big man Kenny Wooten, there may be more promise within ranks than needed outside. From limited viewing, Ignas seems like a good scorer who allows the game to come to him. He’s patient and knows how to create separation in tight space. Wooten is a player priding himself on defense and it seems like half of his blocks are more like volleyball spikes than anything else.
With the improved play of Julius Randle and Reggie Bullock returning to the line-up shortly allows for a responsible level of optimism. Before moving forward the Knicks must create space for that development and improve its reputation among players and agents. Being able to aim for player development and move veterans to ideal situations can be a way of killing two birds with one stone.
Possible Trades per reported interests:
- Dennis Smith and Bobby Portis* to Minnesota for Jeff Teague
- Marcus Morris* to the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma and KCP
Potential Trade per player availability (rumors & monitoring**):
- A potential three way trade* between NYK, NOP, and WAS;
- Mitchell Robinson, DSJ, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis, 2021 Top 3 Protected Dallas Pick, & 2020 2nd Round pick to Minnesota for Karl Anthony Towns and Keita Bates-Diop
*explanation is located in link
**KAT, much more speculation and from what’s reported, RJ and Mitch are both unavailable.
What does any of that mean?
Truth is it doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s not like in any combination of these couldn’t result in a bad fit or if the injury bug hit multiple players but it doesn’t mean there are no reasons to feel good.
Looking at players not involved in trades (Mitch excluded) starting with Payton who has been doing well running the offense and reading passing lanes, although there are stretches he takes off defensively. Every basketball player does that from time to time, but the less it happens separates the good from the great defenders. Frank is a divisive issue on his own but let’s just say a lot of fans feel very passionately about him and agree to disagree.
Reggie Bullock’s return adds the ever appreciating value of spacing and perimeter defense. With Bullock taking the production missed if Morris is moved from three, RJ can be given more room for drive and kicks. He’s shown he’s good at passing if the shooters can punish the collapse on his drive. He’s shown he’s willing to still take the ball to the hoop and finish through contact. The bigger lanes should help Randle as well and if his three-point shooting continues (his season 18-19 averages) there’s not a lot of teams the Knicks shouldn’t be able to keep pace with.
That’s all without mention Knox whose shown more effort and results on defense, Robinson with his ability to stay out of foul trouble, there’s some real reasons to actually thing this season can be enjoyable. Knox’s jumper looks great and was converting earlier in the season. Maybe the effort on defense is leaving him more tired than usual, but he’s still growing into his body too so it could just be adjusting to that. It means there are more reasons to hope than not.
While many Knicks fans are taught to assume the worst it’s hard to see but maybe the next decade can be a bit brighter than the last.