• The New York Knicks made some big moves this off-season to reshape their roster, but the likelihood of those changes being dramatic improvements is low, so low that it would be difficult to justify the risk of making them.

    Now that isn’t to say that I don’t understand the motivation behind high-risk/high-reward moves in their position.  As a franchise virtually starved of talent beyond Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, and stripped of their first round pick by a trade made years ago, sometimes it’s best to swing for the fences because it’s your best way to get better.  The issue in the Knicks’ case is the irresponsibility of the moves made.

    Derrick Rose was the first in a series of less-than-stellar moves for the Knicks.  Rose has dealt with major knee injuries for years now, although to be fair, he played 66 games last season and 51 the year before.  So as far as injuries are concerned, there have been quite a few, but the trend is starting to go in the right direction at least.

    The problem lies in his production.  According to Basketball Reference, a box plus-minus of -2 is considered “replacement level” and 0 is essentially average.  Derrick Rose posted a box plus minus of -3.3 last season, and because it doesn’t factor in playing time, it not only isn’t skewed by his injuries, it fails to acknowledge the negative impact of his inability to make it through an 82 game season.

    Derrick Rose hasn’t been able to post a positive box plus minus since the 2011-2012 season, so the idea of him returning to anything similar to his MVP days is well beyond optimistic.  This has been fairly easy to see on the court, and shouldn’t be shocking considering how much of his success was predicated on his explosiveness, which has been severely lacking since his knee injuries.   He shot 51% within three feet last season, which was dramatically lower than his career average of .568, and also dunked considerably less last season, which is a direct consequence of his prior injuries and lowers his overall effectiveness.

    Rose’s lack of outside shooting doesn’t help matters, and there isn’t really any reason to believe that he’s headed toward improvement.  Ignoring all of that for a moment, it’s still hard to understand the motivation behind a deal like this.

    Rose will be a free agent at the end of the season, and even if he is able to show a small amount of the talent that he once had, would the Knicks really want to sign him to a long-term deal? His history will be hard to get past, and it’s likely that his injury issues will be a question mark hovering over him for the rest of his time in the NBA.  With Anthony and Noah, two players that have recently struggled with injury and are past their primes, already signed to lengthy deals, signing Rose to something similar would be essentially begging for an injury to affect every season for the franchise going forward.   A team can only assume so much long-term risk before it becomes irresponsible, and it wouldn’t be hard to argue that the Knicks have reached that threshold even without Rose.

    The Joakim Noah signing made even less sense.   Carmelo Anthony is at a point in his career where the team should be actively working to transition him to playing power forward, meaning that Kristaps Porzingis should be groomed for the starting center position, which isn’t at all out of position when you consider the fact that he’s well over seven feet.

    When these are the only two assets that your franchise has, you don’t go out and sign a player that can only play center to a large four year contract, and that’s before recognizing his declining play and injury history.

    Joakim Noah played last season like he wanted to define the infamous Mendoza Line for the NBA.  He posted a horrid field goal percentage of .383% and took the offense ineptitude to an even higher level with a free throw percentage of .489%.  Without any context, these are horrible numbers, but then when you consider that he took over 73% of his shots from within three feet and barely managed 10.5 shots a game last season they become nearly unacceptable.

    Throughout his career he has built his success on passing and defense, but even last season he had a turnover percentage of 25.4%, which was far and away a career high and his defense has been declining for the last few seasons.

    Beyond the injuries, he’s about as inept as a player can be on offense and is trending in the wrong direction defensively.  Considering the fact that he’s going to be playing next season as a 31-year-old, the odds of him making any sort of improvement are very low, and the odds of him declining past the point of him being a starting caliber player are decently high, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the team cut him before his contract ends.

    This all ignores his obvious injury concerns as well.  He started two games last season and only appeared in 29 overall, and that’s a year after he only made it into 67 games.  The idea that Noah, Rose and Anthony will all be healthy next season and beyond is almost laughable.

    With Carmelo Anthony gracefully entering his prime, and Kristaps Porzingis showing that he is both the present and the future for the Knicks, the team would have been much better off signing one of the young, high upside free agents that were available during the off-season.   Even if these options didn’t work out, cap flexibility should have been a much high priority than acquiring players like Rose and Noah who, at best, make marginal improvements to the current roster.

    The Knicks need young talent, and without their first round pick in this year’s draft, they weren’t in a good position to add any.  Kristaps Porzingis is a great building block, and Carmelo Anthony still has quite a bit of talent left to help a team, but the Knicks didn’t add enough talent to make a true run in the Eastern Conference, which makes it difficult to justify the cost.

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Blake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) is active for Monday's Game 4 against the Bucks, as expected.

    Griffin was listed as probable but there was pretty much zero doubt about whether or not he'd play with Detroit facing elimination. We'll see if they can extend this series tonight, even with their best player clearly working at less than 100 percent health.

    Source: Keith Langlois on Twitter

  • Malcolm Brogdon - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Mike Budenholzer expects to have a firm target date for Malcolm Brogdon (partial right plantar fascia tear) in the next 3-to-5 days.

    Brogdon has been out since mid-March and remains on track to meet the original 6-to-8 week timetable, though he hasn't done any scrimmaging yet. It's still anticipated that Brogdon will be back in the mix some time in the second round. Once he's up to speed we'll see less George Hill, Sterling Brown and Pat Connaughton.

    Source: Matt Velazquez on Twitter

  • Chris Boucher - F - Toronto Raptors

    Chris Boucher (back spasms) has been ruled out ahead of Tuesday's Game 5 with the Magic.

    Boucher was briefly taken off the injury report ahead of Game 4 but ended up being ruled out anyway. He's highly unlikely to see the floor at all in the postseason, healthy or not.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Joel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) is probable ahead of Tuesday's Game 5 against the Nets.

    Embiid played it coy with his status earlier today but we'd expect to see him out there in a closeout opportunity. Ending this quickly would give him some additional rest with the second round starting on the weekend at the earliest, so a focused effort would give Philly benefits on multiple fronts. Embiid's played through the injury after missing Game 3 and hasn't looked too hampered in dominating Brooklyn up front.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Joel Embiid - F/C - Philadelphia Sixers

    Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) wouldn't commit to playing in Game 5 vs. the Nets on Tuesday.

    Embiid said that "We've got to keep them guessing" and it's highly likely he doesn't even know whether or not he's going to play yet. He's been a true game-time decision for the entire series and that's not going to change so stay tuned for updates closer to tip off.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter

  • Ed Davis - C - Brooklyn Nets

    Ed Davis (ankle) is considered to be questionable going into Tuesday's Game 5 vs. the 76ers.

    Davis was a big part in the Nets' Game 1 win and his rebounding could serve to help Brooklyn out a ton. They just look outmatched by Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic and Davis could provide another big man presence down low. This could be the last game of the series so Davis' status should be a big story coming into the game.

    Source: Brian Lewis on Twitter

  • Jeff Green - F - Washington Wizards

    Jeff Green expressed that he would like to return and play for the Wizards during the 2019-2020 season.

    "I would love to come back," Green said. "Great set of guys on this team. I loved playing with Brad [Beal], John [Wall]." Green was very consistent and was on a friendly contract, but the direction in which the organization wants to go remains unclear. Green may need to find a new home given the plethora of depth the Wizards have at the forward position.

    Source: Chase Hughes of NBC Washington

  • Russell Westbrook - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Russell Westbrook went 5-for-21 from the field to finish with 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two treys in Sunday's 98-111 Game 4 loss to the Blazers.

    Time and again in this series, it's been evident that Damian Lillard has been playing at a higher level than Westbrook and tonight was a fine example. Lillard was able to shake off his early shooting struggles and come up big in the second half, but Westbrook was still forcing shots and appeared to be on the back foot for most of the game. He's best when he's the one taking it to his opponents. A reactive Westbrook is simply not the star the Thunder need right now, if they want to salvage any hopes of coming back in this first-round series.

  • Dennis Schroder - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder mirrored his 17-point performance from Friday with another 17-point game in Sunday's loss to the Blazers.

    Schroder shot 6-of-12 from the field and added three rebounds, three assists, two 3s and one steal to the box score tonight. Aside from him though, the Thunder's bench was deafeningly quiet. He cannot carry the load of the second unit's scoring output by his lonesome, especially when they're faced up against a team with multiple weapons like the Blazers. For now, the Thunder can only hope he keeps this up and that the other reserves will follow suit.

  • Jerami Grant - F - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Jerami Grant made just 4-of-10 shots from the field on Sunday to finish with 11 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three triples and two steals in 34 minutes.

    Grant's impact on the defensive end has been invaluable to the Thunder in this series and it was nice to see him active on the glass tonight, especially with Steven Adams being relatively quiet on that front with seven boards while adding six points, one assist, one steal and one block. Unfortunately for the Thunder, Portland's forwards, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu outplayed and out-hustled them on both ends of the floor.