By John Schmeelk
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With all Knicks games more or less meaningless at this point, all there is left to discuss is next season, and other amusing or infuriating side issues. Here are some things that have come up in the past week.
1) With George Karl’s arrival in Sacramento, there are rumors that he might be willing to trade DeMarcus Cousins. Knicks fans immediately jumped up and said New York should offer the team’s first-round pick this year, which is all but guaranteed to be in the top four. That would be a huge mistake.
Yes, Cousins is better — and could very well always be better — than whoever the Knicks draft with their first-round pick this year. But Cousins would also take up about $15 million of cap space. So the real questions that Knicks fans should be asking themselves is this: Would you rather have Cousins or a top-four pick AND another $15 million player. I’ll take the pick and the player, thank you. Having a great player on a rookie contract is the easiest and fastest way to contention.
2) Phil Jackson showed up at Ohio State to scout D’Angelo Russell, and will reportedly get fined for saying something fairly vague about him. Russell is my third favorite player in the draft behind Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, who I have neck and neck at the top of the draft. What intrigues me about Russell is his passing ability. He could be that combo guard who could operate in the triangle so well. He is 6-foot-5 with point-guard skills and an excellent jump shot. The only thing I wonder about is his quickness and his ability to get to the basket consistently. I’ll try to give you a story on all three guys at some point moving forward.
3) Jose Calderon strained his Achilles tendon and is likely out for the year. It looks like the Knicks really might be able to put out a starting lineup with no one that is a legitimate NBA starter, or maybe even rotation player. I honestly don’t see any way the Knicks win more than five games the rest of the way.
The better question is what the Knicks will do with Calderon. On Friday, Marc Berman of the New York Post brought up the potential use of the stretch provision, and it is a viable option for Calderon. Rather than owing him $15 million over the next two years, they can stretch that out to $three million per season over the next five. With the expanding salary cap, that would make sense as the Knicks try to rebuild this roster.
This cements with little doubt that Jackson butchered the Tyson Chandler trade. Chandler had his issues here, but Jackson should have been able to get more back for him than he did. Some fans are freaking out over the success that J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are having in Cleveland, but let’s see them sustain it over the remainder of the season and the playoffs. Jackson gets to hit the reset button this offseason, and it will be his chance to turn things around with no one to blame but himself.
4) The Knicks do have an open roster spot, and they should go to the D-League and sign the best and most promising player they can. They need as many young assets as they can find, and the D-League is as good a place as any to find them.
5) The Sloan Sports Conference is taking place this weekend, and one thing that might come out of it is the real possibility of accurately tracking defensive play in the NBA. I’ll believe it when I see it, but any way to quantify that would be great.
You can follow me on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the world of sports.