By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks waived backup veteran guard Brandon Jennings Monday morning to make room for Chasson Randle. Randle starred in the Summer League and played for the Westchester Knicks before having a cup of coffee with the 76ers earlier in the season.
The Knicks are wisely looking toward the future, understanding the chances of accomplishing anything meaningful this season are far-fetched. Despite the good feelings from Saturday’s last-second win against Philadelphia, the truth remains that the team nearly blew a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead at home to the Sixers, who were without their best player, Joel Embiid.
Randle is far more of a game-changer. He is a good shooter, but doesn’t have the distribution skills you would want from a point guard at just 6-foot-2. He could develop into a scoring combo guard off the bench. The Knicks are also wise to sign him to a partial guarantee for next season, as has been reported, giving them some control over the former Stanford star if he plays well.
But the move raises another issue. Charley Rosen, Knicks president Phil Jackson’s biographer and close confidant, wrote another article for FanRag Sports on Sunday night in which he began by making the point that he was giving his “own personal analysis of the post-trade Knicks roster.” He obviously started the article this way to avoid any suggestion that he is simply relaying his old friend’s thoughts on the roster.
In the article, Rosen wrote that Jennings “is another player who resists the triangle. Indeed, Jennings only wants to do what he does best, i.e., run screen/rolls. His erratic play has also made him a profound disappointment.”
Jennings was then cut Monday morning. But yeah, that evaluation belonged completely to Rosen and had nothing to do with Jackson’s personal opinion. Right. Sure. I also purchased the Brooklyn Bridge this morning.
Some other notes from Rosen’s article since it is clear he has some pipeline to Jackson and what he is thinking:
• Rosen says similar things about Carmelo Anthony that he has said before: He doesn’t play defense, has not accepted the triangle and doesn’t move the ball. Rosen does admit that Anthony can still fill up the scoreboard. There’s no indication from this evaluation that an Anthony trade isn’t still on Jackson’s to-do list.
• Rosen writes that Derrick Rose “can still get to the rim and finish in rush-hour traffic as well as anybody in the league who’s not LeBron James.” He continues that Rose is not a playmaker and doesn’t play alert defense. His last line of the Rose evaluation notes that there are a lot of point guard prospects in the draft. This is my opinion: The Knicks should consider waiving Rose, if only to guarantee they won’t bring him back next season. His playing time is better used on younger players that might be able to involve Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez more effectively.
• Here’s one amusing thing that Rosen wrote about Sasha Vujacic: “It says here that Vujacic should be in the rotation and play more — at least fifteen minutes per game.” It’s a fair guess that Jackson will lobby coach Jeff Hornacek for Jennings’ minutes to go to Vujacic instead of Randle or Ron Baker. Remember last year when interim head coach Kurt Rambis played Vujacic instead of Jerian Grant? Hopefully, Hornacek resists since it doesn’t make a lick of sense.
• On Porzingis, Rosen notes the lower-leg injuries are worrisome given his height, but that he will still likely develop into a franchise player. That’s fair.
• Rosen is also positive about Hernangomez saying, “Like KP, Hernangomez will certainly develop into a steadfast center for the Knicks.” Also fair.
• Rosen (and Jackson?) is still living in the land of denial when it comes to Joakim Noah: “At 32, he’s certainly lost some lateral movement, but he knows how to defend and always plays with an admirable passion. Because he can establish and hold low-post position, and because he’s such a wonderful passer, Noah would thrive in the triangle. A healthy Noah, playing in the triangle, will do much to change the negative attitude that the New York media and the Knicks fans have toward him.” Noah, due to his injuries and how they have taken a toll on his athleticism, will never be the player he was. His ability to pass from the high post will not make up for his complete lack off offensive ability or deteriorating athleticism. The signing is a bust. The Vertical reported Monday that Noah will have season-ending knee surgery.
• Finally, Rosen makes a lot of off-hand remarks about the triangle (like when referencing Jennings) in his story. It still seems to be a focus for him (and also Jackson?). Is it a coincidence this continuing focus on the triangle is happening at the same time that Hornacek has said the team will run more triangle to help floor balance and transition defense? Who knows? And with the Knicks, you never do.
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