Los Angeles Clippers (21-11) vs. New York Knicks (5-28)
3:00 p.m. PST
December 31, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
Andrea Bargnani is reportedly set to return from his season-long injury against the Clippers.
1. Why are the Knicks this bad?
Robert Silverman, KnickerBlogger, (@BobSaietta): There are a bunch of reasons, but when you come down to it, the roster’s pretty barren. Think about it this way: what non-Melo Knick would crack the Clippers rotation? Calderon would make for a nice backup point guard (and if y’all have some picks/expiring contracts that they’re not using, Jose’s priced to move) and… that’s about it. Maybe a healthy Iman Shumpert could be a 3 and D wing, (see prior parenthetical) but even with LA needing bigs off the bench, there isn’t a ‘Bocker that you’d say is an upgrade. The slew of injuries haven’t really helped, but yeah, even when healthy this team has earned a 5-28 record.
Kevin McElroy, KnickerBlogger, (@knickerbacker): They don’t have many good basketball players. Specifically, they have one very good basketball player and two other pretty good basketball players. They have one insanely streaky basketball player and then a bunch of below average to terrible basketball players.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): There are two possibilities here: 1) Karma. Derek Fisher won so much during his playing career that the basketball gods deemed him as a coach who deserved to lose just to even things out. 2) The Knicks have Melo and then nothing else particularly decent on the roster. You pick which one is more likely.
2. How much of the Knicks’ 5-28 record has to do with Derek Fisher learning on the job?
Silverman: There are times when his lineup and/or rotation choices drive me positively batty, and when he paraphrases Mike Woodson, I have the overwhelming desire to start pounding nails into the floor with my forehead, but he’s mainly kept an even keel, hasn’t hesitated to yank someone for a particularly galling error and he’s possibly the best dressed coach in the league. Which is nice.
McElroy: Very little. See Answer #1.
Katz: Silverman says possibly the best-dressed coach? Are you kidding? He’s absolutely the best dressed. His coaching, however, has left some to be desired. He’s done a great job with Amar’e, but most of the praise should end there. There are times when he nonsensically runs Anthony out there for 38, 39 minutes during blowouts, and to make matters worse, Melo’s playing on a bad knee. The offense goes stagnant and doesn’t set or use screens properly. But that said, this is a poor roster, and Fisher is learning on the job. Just because he’s struggling now doesn’t mean he won’t be a strong coach down the line.
3. Let’s go to a world where that rumored Blake Griffin-for-Carmelo Anthony trade happened last year. How much better or worse off is each team?
Silverman: Shockingly, I don’t think much would be different record-wise. I’m not sure where this rumor was started, but I remember ‘splaining to a bunch of Knicks fans that there’s absolutely no way in hell the Clips would make that trade. But if we were living in this magical paradise, I’d be a lot more optimistic about building around a 25-year old Griffin v. an aging, and possibly decomposing Melo
McElroy: The Knicks would probably better because Calderon and Griffin have some obvious synergies. It’s hard to see an offense based around their pick and rolls and the resulting open looks for the Knicks shooters ranking 22nd in the league, which is where the real Knicks are right now. The Clippers would probably be a little worse but not demonstrably so. The Clips would still be headed for the playoffs and the Knicks would still be headed for a high lottery pick.
Katz: Records probably wouldn’t change all that much, but Griffin would surely work better in the triangle than any other current Knick, considering his post-up and passing abilities. The Knicks future would certainly be brighter. Meanwhile, the Clippers’ championship window would be way shorter considering Anthony is a year older than Chris Paul. Plus, the addition of Melo would’ve taken away some of the best sets the Clips run with Griffin. Oh, and Blake’s the better player, too. So yeah, good call, Clippers.