October 17, 2017

Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal came up winners at the US OPEN; the Cavs and Celtics Kyrie Irving – Isaiah Thomas trade dissected, Brooklyn Nets sale news

In this 96th episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald, are talking about how Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal  slayed at the 2017 US OPEN, the Cavaliers, and Celtics trade of Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, Danny Ainge getting thrown under the bus, Roger Goodell and the NFL on Ezekiel Elliott and Josh Brown, Seattle Seahawks' Michael Bennett's arrest by the Las Vegas police, the proposed sale of the Brooklyn Nets, the NY Yankees, Carmelo Anthony's outlook with the NY Knicks and his wife La La Anthony. Our Photo of the Week is Jeremy Lin and Caris Levert in Taiwan.

WHAT’S POPPIN’

2017 US OPEN

Congratulations are due to professional tennis players Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal on their grand slam wins at the 2017 US OPEN. Stephens beat Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0, to win the Women’s Final. And, on the men’s side, Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to win the men’s US OPEN FINAL.

Boston Celtics – Cleveland Cavaliers Trade

Kyrie Irving has left the building. Irving is now with the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 pick by way of the Boston Celtics, and a 2020 pick from Boston.

The Courts Give Ezekiel Elliot a Reprieve

The Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot can play for the Cowboys this season despite Roger Goodell handing down a six-game suspension to Elliot for domestic violence. The NFL Players Association took the NFL to court to get a Temporary Restraining Order over the process by which Goodell came to Elliot’s punishment, and won.

NFL Give Josh Brown a Six-Game Suspension

The NFL, after suspending former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown 1 Game for beating his wife, quietly suspended him for 6 games. The league reopened the investigation based on new info and has yet to release its findings. The NFL concluded there was a violation of its personal conduct policy and imposed a 6-game suspension which Brown accepted without appeal.

NFL Supports Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett had a run-in with Las Vegas police when he was leaving a night club. Bennett says that the officer told him he would "blow my f*cking head off"

NBA and NBA Players Association Issue Joint Statement on Social Issues

Here’s a big contrast between the NBA and the NFL. Recently, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michelle Roberts are encouraging players to speak out on social issues, stating to NBA players:

“None of us operates in a vacuum. Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players — you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Our Photo of the Week is a photo of Brooklyn Nets’ players Jeremy Lin and Caris LeVert in Taiwan.

NY SPORTS REPORT

Brooklyn Nets for Sale

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is ready to do a slow dance to sell the team. Initially, Prokhorov wanted to sell a minority stake in the team, but because of the pace, he is willing to sell up to 49 percent and the remaining 51 percent shortly thereafter. Sources say Prokhorov is encouraged by the sale of the Houston Rockets for $2.2 Billion.

Carmelo Anthony Still with the NY Knicks

Carmelo Anthony is still a member of the New York Knicks even though both the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers have expressed interest in him. Additionally, the Knicks point guard situation isn’t knocking anyone’s socks off and the team is considering bringing in point guards Trey Burke and Jarrett Jack for training camp.

The New York Yankees in the Hunt

 Right now, there is enough space between the Yankees and the Orioles for the Yanks to get a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

OFF TOPIC

Now, let’s go off topic. New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony showed up unexpectedly at the launch of his estranged wife, La La Anthony’s, new denim line at Lord & Taylor in New York City. Carmelo proudly posted a photo of La La on Instagram.

Carmelo Anthony Instagram post of the launch of LaLa Anthonys new denim line at Lord and Taylor 613x400

 

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Knicks fans okay with Hardaway Jr.’s return, but concerned about $71 million

Phil Jackson is out as the NY Knicks president and directly after his exit, the Knicks inked a four-year deal to bring Tim Hardaway Jr. back to the team.

New York Knick fans seem to be okay with Hardaway’s return because of his improvement since going to the Atlanta Hawks. However, fans are crowing about Hardaway’s $71 million four-year deal.

Meanwhile, David Griffin, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, has turned down the job of general manager of the New York Knicks.

So the hunt for a general manager continues. Purportedly, the new general manager will report directly to Steve Mills, who is expected to be elevated to team president.

VIDEO: Jimmy Butler and Timberwolves are big winners in NBA Free Agency; Paul George lands in OKC, Brooklyn Nets, Knicks, focusing on young players

Before we get to our discussions of the top sports stories, here a couple of quick bites:

• The NBA fined Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid for foul language after he released a video on Instagram where he said, "F- LaVar Ball"
• Lakers small forward Brandon Ingram will miss the remainder of summer league due to cramping in his right leg
• The Miami Heat officially waived Chris Bosh and plan to retire his jersey. Bosh has since cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
James Harden landed the biggest NBA extension contract in history. The deal, reportedly worth $228 M, would start trickling in 2019-20 at a salary of $37.8M, $40.8M, $43.8M and $46.8M.

NBA Free Agency

NBA free agency was in full effect this past week. And, Keisha and Mike are talking about the winners and those who did not do as well.

Paul George Goes to OKC

Indiana Pacers guard Paul George has left the building and has landed in OKC to play with NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder team. Has OKC positioned itself to be in better contention to take over the West? Did the Los Angeles Lakers miss the boat on not trading for him?

Lonzo Ball NBA Summer League Outing

As his father, LaVar Ball predicted, NBA Draft stand-out, Lonzo Ball is now in the NBA and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Lonzo had a rough Game 1, but he managed to right his ship and played clicking on all cylinders for Game 2. Will Lonzo bring “show time” back to the Lakers?

What’s The 411Sports’ Photo of the Week

Our photo of the week is a photo of Markelle Fultz, the 2017 NBA Draft’s #1 pick overall, being helped off the court by his teammates because of an injured left ankle.

What’s The 411Sports’ New York Sports Report

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Jarrett Allen in the 2017 NBA Draft at No. 22, and just before the draft, the Nets acquired guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Brook Lopez and a Nets first round draft pick. Russell attended NBA Summer League and like a good teammate, he cheered on the Nets. However, when the game was over, Russell stayed to watch the Lakers play.

Should D’Angelo Russell have stayed to watch the Lakers summer league game? Will the Nets development culture be able to assimilate D’Angelo Russell?

New York Knicks

Phil Jackson is out as the NY Knicks president and the Knicks inked a four-year deal to bring Tim Hardaway Jr. back after Jackson’s exit. New York Knick fans are crowing about Hardaway’s $71 million four-year deal. Meanwhile, David Griffin, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, has turned down the job of general manager of the New York Knicks.

Is this a good move to bring Hardaway back to the Knicks? Who made this decision? Would the Hardaway acquisition have happened if Phil Jackson was still with the Knicks?

The New York Yankees

New York Yankees were in a huge tailspin heading into the MLB All-Star Break.

Will the Yankees turn this ship around and sail into smoother waters?

New York Giants

New York Giant wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr landed on the number 8 spot on the list of Top 100 NFL Players of 2017 as determined by his peers.

Off Topic

LaVar Ball Gets Real

LaVar Ball’s camera-ready persona has reportedly landed the Ball family a reality-show deal. Deadline is reporting that the Ball family will be the focus of a yet-to-be-named docu-series as part of Facebook's push for original video content.

A Woman Uber Driver Gets First-Day Surprise

It was a woman’s first day as a Uber driver and she picked up Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee. How cool is that?

This might be the best bittersweet news of the entire year if you're an avid Knicks fan and supporter. Reported first by Stephen A. Smith, a journalist and NBA insider for ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, Phil Jackson was approached by New York Knicks management about a possible job offer that would give him the responsibilities as the next Head Coach of the Knicks.

Recent reports have been modified updating that report stating that the Knicks have offered Jackson a front office position as team president of basketball operations. I thought that was current GM Steve Mills' job to lose? What about Assistant GM Allan Houston? But this is how Jim Dolan, President and CEO, Cablevision Systems and Chairman, Madison Square Garden company orchestrates his business. The business that we are most concerned with is the New York Knicks.

As of today March 3, 2014, the New York Knicks are well on their way to a disappointing and deflating representation of an NBA regular season, positioned 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, a 25-40 overall record currently enjoying a 4-game winning streak. A new episode of Marvel Agents of Shield premiered tonight on ABC-TV. If you were unaware, it's a pretty good show.

Let's get this Knicks stuff out of the way because that's how hard it is to watch this team. That's how hard it is to fully invest your spirit into the Orange and Blue. Maybe the addition of Phil Jackson in a management arrangement could ease the pain and give us a substantial amount of faith even though it might not translate to wins on the court immediately. Maybe down the road, we will see the fingerprints of what 11-world championships won as a coach and two championships won as a player could transition into as a talent evaluator and trader.

Maybe down the road, we could see an entire franchise image make-over rivaling the San Antonio Spurs organization, minus the dynasty (it's too early) due to the insertion of one man. Maybe he could be exactly what we need. All of these predictions and future dreams could be a reality if Jackson indeed joins the Knicks organization and is given the space and opportunity to operate, only if Dolan keeps his hands to himself. Only if Dolan owns the team and does not get involved in basketball related ideas influencing management transactions and in that case, he has done enough.

Donnie Walsh, remember him? Presently a consultant for the Indiana Pacers was the former President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks. He only drafted a Hall-of-Famer in Reggie Miller in 1987 and aided the construction of a team in the 2013-2014 Pacers who are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. As of today, the Pacers are 47-17, the best record in the NBA. What Walsh did for the Knicks made him our messiah, as long as he was employed by the Knicks. In 2008, Walsh cleared $27 million off the Knicks payroll in trading players with large contracts for cheaper and durable pieces. He cleared cap space for the Knicks to have a chance at signing a max player among the summer free agent class of 2010, in which Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Amar'e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson, were all available. He signed Stoudemire to a five-year $100-million dollar deal. The Knicks were back.

They were having a great season until some bumps in the road steered the Knicks off-track momentarily which prompted Dolan to don his basketball hat and command the pursuit of then Denver Nuggets star F Carmelo Anthony. Walsh obeyed his wishes sacrificing the punch of the team while mortgaging the future. Due to health, pride, and superior basketball knowledge Walsh resigned June 3, 2011.

As Walsh left, a man within the organization became his successor in Glen Grunwald, the former Vice President of the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors. He only orchestrated a trade to acquire Vince Carter and drafted Tracy McGrady, giving the Raptors three consecutive playoff berths from 2000-02, which included a trip to the conference semi-finals. In 2012, Grunwald was promoted to general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations for the Knicks. He gave us one of the best seasons to date. In the 2012-13 NBA season, Grunwald manufactured a Knicks team with veterans and role players built around the centerpiece in Anthony to achieve a 54-28 regular season, which clinched their first Atlantic Division crown since the 1994 season and a trip to the second round of the 2013 playoffs.

Like Walsh, Grunwald was let go also following his success. This is all while Dolan has maintained his basketball hat. These moves illustrate that Dolan doesn't allow room to grow or develop, but space to do nothing as your General Manager job will be in jeopardy if he doesn't approve. Now the Knicks General Manager responsibilities belong to a bright gentleman who has never operated Basketball Operations in his life, Steve Mills. The basketball hat is still on. This is the beautiful mind of Dolan at work. Those are his actions.

What does the potential arrival of Jackson mean?

Does it mean that Dolan will actually let the basketball people handle basketball related activities or, is it only a matter of time before he interferes and aides another exit of a great basketball mind?

The mere idea of pursuing Jackson while Mills, the man occupying the current GM position, which hasn't lasted an entire NBA season, says it all.

Dolan can't wait.

You would think he will leave his hands to himself because it is Jackson, the "Zen Master," a man inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, but we don't know. I have faith in a coach who has won 11 world championships to have an idea in choosing the kind of players he suspects has the characteristics and skills that result in wins on the basketball court. Does Dolan believe so, or is this just to save face and throw someone else to the wolves of the general public and the media capital of the world.

It's interesting, isn't it?

Phil Jackson New President of New York Knicks

Just as the New York Knicks shocked the basketball universe winning 54 games last year, their division and their first playoff series in more than 10 years, they have done a complete 180 this year. It's been a Murphy's Law kind year for the Orange and Blue that has it 13 games under .500 and currently 4 games out of the last playoff spot.

Think of a way for them to lose a game and they have done it. With criticism mounting, talk of a new head coach and a protest planned before their game against Indiana Wednesday night, rumors began that owner Jim Dolan had reached out to ex-Knick Phil Jackson. The meeting was brokered by mutual friend Irvin Azoff back in December. When Jackson made it clear that he had no interest in coaching, Dolan offered him President of Basketball Operations.

Jackson was introduced to the media Tuesday morning at the World's Most Famous Arena, the place where Jackson earned his first two championship rings with the Knicks, the last coming in 1973. Since then, Jackson added 11 more rings between the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Signing a 5-year contract at an estimated $12 million per year, the clock has started to see if he can add another ring to his illustrious career.

Phil Jackson spoke off the cuff after being introduced not relying on a pre-written statement. Aside from Dolan and General Manager Steve Mills, former teammates Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Dick Barnett attended as well. He began by talking about the concept of a team.

"We want to build a team. This is a franchise that developed a team back in the 60's that was consistently playing team basketball for 7, 8 years. That's the cache that I think brought me here. There are things I believe that the players should have that's important to them. They should have the security in knowing they will be supported by the organization and coaching staff. Putting yourself on the line, you need to have that support. This is something we want to build for them."

Dolan's history of meddling with his past hires has been well documented; most notably the Donnie Walsh saga, and more recently with his last GM, Glen Grunwald. Dolan rarely speaks to the media and thus, the media feels he has little regard for them. Aware of that, Jackson made a plea, as he emphasized he wants to change the negative perception surrounding the team.

"I want to develop relationships with people here. I'm reaching out to you today and the media people to say we can have an open relationship. We need your support and the fans need a positive atmosphere to come and enjoy the game and the players need a positive attitude in which to play."

Phil Jackson would not have taken the position if he was not guaranteed total autonomy and control of basketball operations. His first official order of business will be talking to Head Coach Mike Woodson and the team before they face the Pacers riding a 7-game winning streak. He's hoping his presence will have an effect on the rest of the season culminating in getting into the playoffs, even if their opponent is Miami or Indiana.

While not the most athletic player on those championship teams, Phil Jackson was a student of the game under legendary coach William "Red" Holzman who stressed passing the ball, finding the open man and playing good old fashion team defense. Jackson remembers when Holzman picked him up at Kennedy airport the year he was drafted by the Knicks in 1967. In short, driving to the city Jackson experienced New York City first hand as a kid threw a brick from the overpass, smashing the front window.

Not deterred, Holzman looked at Jackson and said, "You know New York is not the easiest place to live. But if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."

Jackson has made it as a player in New York and as a coach in Chicago and Los Angeles. He wants to come full circle and make it as President of the New York Knicks.

VIDEO: What's The 411Sports Episode 3

What's The 411Sports Episode 3 featured a discussion of the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers losing season; Phil Jackson coming to New York, Michael Jordan's earnings for 2013; the NFL contemplating allowing the use of medical marijuana; Michael Sam declining an invitation to the White House Correspondents Dinner; who's going to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship; and where will Johnny Manziel land in the 2014 NFL Draft. The featured interview was with Fox Sports Analyst, Pam Oliver. The interview took place at Media Row during the NFL's Super Bowl media week.

Phil Jackson Selects Derek Fisher to Coach New York Knicks

June 10, 2014, signaled a date in New York Knicks history that we can actually acknowledge as the start of the Phil Jackson era, finally.

As we all know by now, Jackson was appointed the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks earlier this year. As good as it felt to have the knowledge that Jackson, the owner of 11 championship rings as a coach was joining the Knicks in a management role, overseeing basketball operations, there is still a bit of uneasiness. Yes, there is nervousness because we have no evidence that his great coaching will translate into great management.

Although, Jackson relieved then Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson as one of his first orders of business. Hiring Woodson's replacement was a little problematic, as Jackson's first choice, Steve Kerr, a TNT basketball color analyst, bowed out and signed on with the Golden State Warriors.

But, June 10, 2014, signaled a day when Jackson stepped forward into the future of the Knicks franchise making his presence felt in NY besides occupying a seat at an occasional Knicks home game. He hired a coach. He hired someone he could trust. He hired someone who knows his basketball philosophies. He hired someone he has coached and he hired someone he has won championships with. He hired Derek Fisher. On June 10, 2014, it became official that Derek Fisher would become the newly minted Knicks floor manager from the bench,

It makes sense. After failing to lure Kerr, his initial target, Jackson went with the next best thing. In seeking the right candidate to fill the shoes that Jackson has mastered as a head coach, Jackson required a young mind, someone, he has ties with and is also comfortable with, and most importantly, someone who understands the triangle offense, the coaching strategy that Jackson has implemented throughout the duration of his head coaching career.

Fisher fit the bill. Is this hiring a result of the success that first-year head coaches have enjoyed in most recent times? It's difficult to dismiss what Jason Kidd has accomplished in the neighboring borough of Brooklyn. Kidd steered the Nets to 44-38 finish, earning a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division, as well as a trip to the second round of the 2014 postseason.

How about Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix? He transformed a team that only won 25 games during the 2012-13 Season into a team that won 48 games this year. Not to mention David Joerger who spearheaded the Memphis Grizzlies attack, exceeding Hornacek with 50 wins. Those are just a couple of examples, but I think in the eyes of someone like Jackson, he seems like the kind of guy who will do exactly what he wants to do, and in adding Fisher he did just that.

For those who do not know Derek Fisher, he is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He played collegiate basketball at the University of Arkansas for four years and is a member of one of the most celebrated draft classes in NBA History. Fisher holds a career average of 8.3 points and 3.0 assists. Fisher didn't exactly light the world on fire during the NBA season, but the reason why he is a household name is because of what he was capable of producing when the lights shined the brightest. I'm referring to the NBA postseason. That's how I will remember Fisher. Fisher possesses NBA records of 259 playoff games played, winning 161 of those games. He has five rings to serve as evidence. Some would even argue that other than Shaquille O'Neal, Fisher played a pivotal role in aiding Kobe Bryant to secure the championships he won early in his illustrious career.

For all the key defensive stops, steals, big shots and breakout performances Fisher has accumulated throughout the NBA postseason, one particular series of events stands out more than most. The 0.4 shot. During Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs, Fisher, then suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers, down 73-72 caught an inbound pass from teammate Gary Payton, only to catch the ball, turn and force a shot up all within 0.4 seconds to give the Lakers a 74-73 win, and a 3-2 series lead.

Fisher delivered a 100% effort every night he stepped on the court whether it was a defensive move, doing the dirty work, or guarding the opposing teams best perimeter player. When called upon he responded, and there's no reason why I feel that he won't do the same as a coach. Fisher was tough, strong-minded, a character guy and a competitor, all characteristics we can expect will allow Fisher to make a smooth transition to the bench, this time around wearing a suit. Fisher is well-respected around the league, and beloved by all of his peers.

"He's a smart guy, smart mind," says Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant to Marc Berman of the New York Post. "He's a great motivator, great speaker and can really relate to a lot of guys and demands that respect from everybody," Durant continues.

"I think he can be a great coach," TNT analyst Reggie Miller expressed during the Spurs and Thunder playoff series.

As Fisher is small in stature, his heart made up for his lack of size displaying an all for one team basketball inspired play that generates interest and support. If that doesn't influence your belief in the job that Fisher is capable of doing, look no further than his introductory press conference held by the New York Knicks at their training facility.

"I look forward to sharing my experiences with my players, and helping to reestablish a championship culture," says Fisher while addressing the NY media in attendance.

Here's another one. "This is not for Phil and I to just hang out again as friends," says Fisher, in which he concludes that statement by adding, "We want to add more banners to this ceiling here."

How Fisher and Jackson will go about their business in doing so is intriguing and yet worrisome, but the power, sternness and matter-of-fact tone in which Fisher articulated throughout his press conference leads me to believe that he will do just that. I'm encouraged. The only problem facing Fisher is the obvious fact that he has never coached before on any level. He has never occupied the bench as an assistant head coach or even as an intern.

Jackson made it clear that in the beginning of Fisher's tenure in New York, he will be very hands-on, most notably participating in their training camp where Jackson expressed that a co-operation will be in effect. Fisher has to gain the respect of his players.

He's Fisher and certainly not Kidd. See Fisher wasn't a superstar in this league the way Kidd was. As head coach, Kidd received near-instant credibility from his players. Fisher will have to earn his. I believe he can do it. I believe in Fisher. I believe that he can mold the Knicks to play like champions like he once did. I believe a Fisher coached team could exhibit the same characteristics that Fisher displayed while he graced the hardwood as a player in being strong, tough, defensive minded, as well as, adopting and instilling an all-team mentality.

It's hard to not believe in a guy who has won at the highest level attainable not to mention five times. When a deal like this comes into focus and becomes official, I have only one question for Jackson: Why wasn't Fisher the initial candidate?

Stephen Curry wins the NBA MVP Award for the second consecutive year; is Sam Bradford delusional; Frank Vogel still looking for an opportunity to coach

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about:

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry wins the NBA MVP Award for the second consecutive year and the first player to win with a unanimous vote
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wins NBA Coach of the Year award
The Indiana Pacers decided not to renew head coach Frank Vogel's contract
The Memphis Grizzlies fire Dave Joerger and the Sacramento Kings hires Joerger and pays him more money
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach
The NFL issues a warning about eating meat in foreign countries
Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton gets the Los Angeles Lakers head coach position
Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott says he was blindsided by the Lakers’ firing
Miami Heat center Chris Bosh won’t be with the Miami Heat during its playoff run, as Bosh is out for the season because of continuing issues with blood clots
Caitlin Jenner will pose nude for the cover of Sports Illustrated

Additional in-depth conversations focus on: Cardale Jones, Eli Apple, Sam Bradford, Laremy Tunsil, the Penn State scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno.

The NY Sports Report focuses on the Brooklyn Nets introduction of its new head coach Kenny Atkinson, which should be imminent since the Atlanta Hawks’ playoff run has come to an end and ending Atkinson's assistant coaching duties.

The New York Knicks is still leaving fans and the media in the dark regarding its head coach for next season. It’s been rumored that former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel or his agent may have spoken with Steve Mills, executive vice president and general manager of the New York Knicks, and not Knicks president, Phil Jackson. This rumor has left many Knicks fans to worry that Jackson is going to keep Kurt Rambis as the Knicks head coach.

 

 

If the Knicks are to enjoy any success this season as overachievers, Carmelo Anthony has to be the star of the show

If you are a New York Knicks fan, there is no point in looking into the past. A brand new season is upon us. It’s a clean slate; and last season was one of the worst seasons in franchise history. As hard as it is to gain any sense of optimism regarding the Knicks chances this season, there’s actually a good reason why you should invest your precious time. Phil Jackson, the Knicks president struck out when it came to the top free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Monroe but what he did do was put together a team full of solid players who can play in the triangle offense.

Robin Lopez signed on for four years and $54-million. Kyle O’Quinn was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic. Former Laker and Jackson disciple, Sasha Vujacic, a sharp shooter, provides the Knicks with a legitimate deep threat. Aaron Afflalo, a former teammate of Carmelo Anthony will start at the two. And other signees like Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams, draft picks: Kristaps Porzingis (4th overall), Jerian Grant (19th overall, traded to Knicks), Louis Amundson and Lance Thomas round out the offseason moves.

Anything done with the mindset of improving the team from last year should be commended and regarding the Knicks, they definitely improved. They got bigger, tougher, added some perimeter scoring and most importantly brought in players who they believe can be system players.

Although preseason doesn’t mean much, the new personnel showed signs of what to expect this season. Williams looked like an early candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Melo was in mid-season form after enduring left knee surgery in February, which kept him off the court following the All-Star break. And for a change, the Knicks actually showed some life on the defensive end of the floor.

They looked energized, collecting steals and plenty of blocks, highlighting the athletic ability of Williams and the length of Porzingis, which will be a strength for the Knicks this season. In addition to Williams, Lopez was acquired primarily to anchor the Knicks on the defensive end along with Seraphin and O’Quinn, so the Knicks should be able to prevent teams from dominating on offense in the post.

Like the defense, the bench should also be a plus this season. Williams sports the kind of game that can lead the 2nd unit on offense. Rookie, Grant is a four-year collegiate athlete who does a great job penetrating the lane to make plays for himself and others. Langston Galloway, who plays on both ends, feels like he has a chip on his shoulder, going undrafted last year out of St. Joe’s and Cleanthony Early is looking to enjoy a better sophomore campaign.

The Knicks bench probably won’t lead the league in bench scoring, but you can bet that they will defend and provide a much-needed spark transitioning from the starters. And most importantly, they are young. There’s a lot to like with this Knicks team and in the bright spots that reflect the 2015-16 version of the Knicks, there are also many questions.

Questions surrounding Porzingis and how well he plays in his first season in the association will arise. Porzingis will play the most basketball he has ever played in his life and will matchup with the cream-of-the-crop in big men on a nightly basis. Can he handle it? Since he was drafted, Porzingis has spent this summer getting stronger, adding 11 pounds of muscle to his wiry frame to be able to bang down low with a game that represents Euro basketball well. According to multiple sources, Porzingis has spent significant time working on his back to the basket game after practice. But like every rookie, Porzingis, as talented as he is as a 7-footer, will experience some growing pains and how he handles adversity will be essential to his development.

Is Melo completely healthy? If the Knicks are to enjoy any success this season as overachievers, Melo has to be the star of the show like he is paid to be. Melo has to put this team on his back and be a reliable source of points whenever the Knicks need it, especially in the fourth quarter. Although Melo has to lead this team in scoring, he does have to be a model citizen as the leader of this group and with scoring, prioritize moving the ball and playing defense for the best possible outcome.

Can Derek Fisher coach and will the Knicks remain healthy are other questions that the orange and blue must answer this season if they plan to qualify for the playoffs. The Knicks will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in its season opener and it seems like health is already an issue.

Afflalo will miss the season opener due to a strained left hamstring, joined by Amundson (sore lower back) and Seraphin (sore right knee).

Not too long ago, Melo compared this Knicks team to the New York Mets who are currently in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. Melo sees comparisons in how his Knicks and the Mets had to rebuild and craft a team that can win at a high level. Unfortunately for Melo and co. the Knicks aren’t World Series ready, but the 8th seed is definitely within reach.

VIDEO Discussion: Barkley likes Phil Jackson's post-season moves; he likes acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Derrick Williams 

Long-time Knicks critic Charles Barkley has heaped big praise upon Knicks President Phil Jackson saying that he actually agrees with the moves that Jackson has made this off-season.

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