2013--14 RECORD: 37--45 (3RD IN ATLANTIC) COACH: DEREK FISHER (1ST SEASON WITH KNICKS)
The triangle offense has not been kind to NBA coaches besides Phil Jackson. Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis are among the few who have tried and failed with the system, which demands precise cuts, continual reads and generous spacing. Derek Fisher—who played in the triple post for nine years under Jackson, now his boss—is the latest to try it, as a rookie coach inheriting much of the same Knicks roster that was a dysfunctional mess last season.
Fisher has a few things going for him, though, starting with an elite scorer to fill the Michael Jordan--Kobe Bryant role. Carmelo Anthony is known for being a ball stopper, but after two-plus seasons in Mike Woodson's isolation-heavy attack, the 30-year-old forward says he is ready for an approach that requires constant movement and the ability to process multiple options on the fly. Anthony has an ideal point guard in José Calderón, who consistently ranks in the top 10 in assist percentage and is deadly enough from deep—41.1% over nine seasons—to convert the spot-up jumpers that the triangle seeks to create. Fisher also has teaching help, with Cleamons and Rambis serving as assistants and Jackson attending practices.
The road will be bumpy for New York, which averaged 21 turnovers in its first four preseason games. With several big contracts expiring next summer, change looms. But if Anthony and Calderón embrace the offense, the Knicks will finally have a strong foundation.
11.4 PPG; 4.7 APG; 45.6 FG%; 44.9 3FG%
6.7 PPG; 4.2 RPG; 37.8 FG%; 33.3 3FG%
27.4 PPG; 8.1 RPG; 45.2 FG%; 40.2 3FG%
13.3 PPG; 5.3 RPG; 44.2 FG%; 27.8 3FG%
6.6 PPG; 6.8 RPG; 1.2 BPG; 56.8 FG%
14.5 PPG; 4.0 RPG; 41.5 FG%; 39.4 3FG%
11.9 PPG; 4.9 RPG; 0.6 BPG; 55.7 FG%
Bargnani, Calderón and Smith team with Anthony to master the triangle with sizzling shooting.
The defense, damaged by the loss of Chandler, is even more porous than last season's No. 24 unit.
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE KNICKS
With Derek Fisher as coach and Phil Jackson as president, the Knicks will be committed to the triangle offense. Even if they struggle early, they'll stick with it.... Last year the offense was about giving the ball to Carmelo Anthony and clearing out. Now it's about sharing the ball, then getting it to him late in the fourth quarter. Anthony won't be as tired this season because he won't have to carry the load for the entire game.... José Calderón [who was acquired from the Mavericks in a six-player deal] is great at running a team and making shots. The same goes for backup Pablo Prigioni, a superior defender to Calderón.... The trade with Dallas hurts on defense, where Samuel Dalembert is a downgrade from Tyson Chandler in the middle.... The roster is weak defensively, which makes Iman Shumpert so important. The biggest thing is being able to stop perimeter players one-on-one, and Shumpert has that ability with his size [6'5", 220 pounds] and strength.... Tim Hardaway Jr. has a chance to be a starting two guard. His offense is ahead of his defense.... There is no way J.R. Smith can play in a system that stresses continuity and equal opportunity. His game is too up and down, too focused on pulling up and shooting. The Knicks are going to have to move him.... The system will be hard for Amar'e Stoudemire, too, but he's in a contract year and will do what he is told to do.... It's been a while since Andrea Bargnani had a really good shooting year. The question is always whether he can stay healthy.