Monday, 13 January 2014

Knicks Chatter with Seth Rosenthal of

New York's Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert.
After a severely underwhelming start to the 2013-14 season, the Knicks have picked up their play in January and "improved" their record to 14-22 -- placing them 10th in the ghastly Eastern Conference standings. New York hosts the surprising Phoenix Suns tonight, and will look to extend their four game winning streak.

I had some questions for Seth Rosenthal, editor of SBNation's "Posting and Toasting" Knicks blog, host of P&T's "Dog Playdate" podcast, and creator of the much-loved acronym "FARTDOG" (Friendly Alliance of Really Terrible Defenders of Opposing Guards), who was kind enough to take the time to answer them for me.

Angus Crawford: The Knicks have won five of their past six games, including impressive wins over Miami and San Antonio, with a net rating of +7.3 in that time. What’s been different over this stretch that’s changed the team’s fortunes? 

Seth Rosenthal: The short answer is I have no idea. Their defense has improved, but I couldn't tell you why. I'd like to say they're playing with more energy on that end, but I couldn't explain why that's the case. The fact that Toure' Murry and Kenyon Martin have been contributing more surely helps. I would say it's mostly the defense. Melo's been sharp and the shooting-- Iman Shumpert's production in particular-- has been much better, at least in spurts, but not being completely flaccid against opposing attacks seems like the biggest improvement in the New Year.

AC: Iman Shumpert exploded for 26 and 27pts (both career-highs) at the beginning of the Texas trip, and has been shooting 55.9% from the three-point line since the San Antonio win. Is it safe to say that his role with the team (and career with New York) has been resurrected, or would you prefer to consider this more of an isolated hot streak?

SR: I'm not ready to assume anything, no. He does appear a LOT more comfortable-- he was just playing poorly in 2013, he was playing without any apparent confidence. Perhaps that's a result of decreased pressure with the dissipation of trade rumors and whatnot. Something definitely changed, internally or externally. I hope it lasts. I don't know that it will.

AC: Speaking of Iman Shumpert, the team was rumoured to be heavily involved in trade discussions for Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry in early December, though nothing ever came to fruition. Whether a 2018 first-round pick, Shumpert, or Tim Hardaway Jr., the majority of these conversations centred on the Knicks giving up a valued, future asset. Do you think New York’s recent play has entirely quashed the possibility of a deal before the deadline, or should we not rule out the chance that the team will make another “future-for-present” style trade?

SR: No, you can't rule anything out. For one, this success might not last. For two, the Knicks are fickle and unpredictable anyway, and when they do make deals, they tend not to be the rumoured-for-weeks-ones. They tend to spring up out of the blue and just happen. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

AC: For much of the season, Mike Woodson’s strategising has been uh… “Questionable,” at best. His insistence upon playing Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani alongside one another (the trio have appeared together in 21 games and are -14.4 points per 100 possessions), his seemingly unbreakable trust in J.R. Smith (shooting 35.4% on the season), and a general reluctance to give minutes to younger, more inexperienced players (i.e. Toure Murry and Tim Hardaway Jr.). How much, in your opinion, of the Knicks’ 14-22 record is a reflection on their head coach’s decision-making?

SR: A lot of it. This is an imperfect roster, but it still offers the two-point-guards, Melo-with-three-shooters possibilities that last season's highly successful (even when Tyson Chandler was hurt) roster offered. I'm not certain those kinds of looks would work very well this season, but you figure they'd at least be a default. Instead, Woodson's avoided extra ballhandlers and extra shooters whenever possible. The starting lineup that went on a huge win streak while Chandler was out last season didn't play *a minute* (I think) during his broken-leg absence. East is big, man.

AC: J.R. Smith. Wait, I’m sorry that’s not actually a question. Perhaps try this: when the phrase “Earl Smith III’s 2013-14 NBA season” is uttered, what does Seth Rosenthal think?


Delightful. You can follow Seth on Twitter @seth_rosenthal, follow Posting and Toasting @ptknicksblog, read Seth over at, and listen to Seth and @netw3rk on the aforementioned Dog Playdate podcast here

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