Orange and Blues July 17, 2022

Orange and Blues: A Knicks Comic by Russell Richardson, July 17, 2022

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Jalen Brunson is a New York Knick

Ring the bells! 

By Russell Richardson

In one of the most anti-climactic events of recent basketball history, the New York Knicks have signed Jalen Brunson

The 6’1”, 190lbs point guard has so many ties to the organization—his dad’s an assistant coach, the head coach and team president are nominal uncles, the team president’s son is Brunson’s agent—that to not sign him would have been considered one of the all-time Knicks’ follies (and there have been plenty). By getting its man, New York has its first bona-fide starting point guard since…Raymond Felton?

According to various sources, the deal is $104M for four years, with a player option on the final season.

Clearly, Leon Rose & Co. want to win games and reach the playoffs. Aside from all the personal connections, the Knicks sought the 25-year old Brunson because he’s a winner.

Jalen tasted glory as a top collegiate player who won two National championships with Villanova (2016, 2018). If you haven’t checked the awards section of his college-basketball reference page, go give it a look. 

Despite his championship credentials and a multitude of distinctions, the Wildcat remained on the 2018 NBA Draft board until the Dallas Mavericks selected him with the 33rd pick. 

One could argue that Dallas won that draft, given that they also scored superstar Luka Dončić, the third pick, in a trade with Atlanta. Since then, Brunson has largely lived in Luka’s shadow but proved this year that he could shine with or without Dončić. This season, in 17 Luka-less games, Jalen averaged 20.4 points, 3.9 boards, and 7.5 dimes in 34 minutes per contest.

During the playoffs, Jalen, who is lauded for his composure, shone even brighter. Over 18 post-season games, he averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in just under 35 minutes per game. In a playoff game against the Jazz, he logged a career-high 41 points on the way to bouncing Utah from the tournament and sending their organization into a spiral of gloomy self-reflection. Any takers for a moderately-used Rudy Gobert?

Brunson played a significant role in Dallas over-performing and reaching the Western Conference Finals. After their Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Mavs’ general manager Nico Harrison called re-signing Brunson their “top priority.”

Huh. Well, for an organization that claimed to prioritize their budding star, botching the Brunson deal looks a major gaffe on Dallas’ part. As explained by Marc Stein in the latest episode of The Mismatch, the Mavs came into this season knowing that Brunson was eligible for a four-year extension, with compensation up to $56 million. Dallas chose to wait and see if a trade was possible. Both the trade deadline and the playoffs came and went without an extension, and the exceedingly patient Brunson decided to test the open market—wisely so, given that he’ll now earn double the amount for which Dallas could have locked him in.

Devil’s Advocates will claim that his departure creates more opportunity for Spencer Dinwiddie as a ball handler, and that the recently-inked center Christian Wood can recoup any points lost in the Brunson exit.

Whatever. Their loss, our gain!

During his breakout fourth NBA season, Jalen averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.  He shot 84% from the free-throw line, 50% from the field, and 37% from deep on 3.2 attempts per game. (He’s a killer from the corners.)

With New York, Brunson is expected to serve as the primary ball-handler. Some fans will argue that Immanuel Quickleyhad earned the right to run the point, but Brunson is superior playmaker, has better vision, and will facilitate more IQ scoring. Plus, if Derrick Rose continues to play well in reserve and stay healthy, the Knicks will have true depth at the point guard position for the first time in years.

Naysayers will protest the deal as an overpay, but given Brunson’s talent, his age, and what the league pays other point guards, I’m cool with the numbers. C’mon, Terry Rozier will make $21.4M this season, Malcolm Brogdon will make $22.6M.

Sure, over in What-If Corner, there’s a sale on such chestnuts as, “What if Brunson’s a bust?”, “What if Uncle Leon and Grandpa Thibs can’t separate business from family?”, and “What if Thibs won’t play Jalen and IQ together?” 

But, as tempting as exploring those and other questions might be, for now I choose to guzzle the optimism juice until the can runs dry. Today, my favorite sports team has a talented new player in perhaps its most important position. That’s a cause to celebrate. Ring the bells!

NBA Draft roundup!

Hey folks! I’ve been mostly writing over at postingandtoasting.com, but today’s article had an overlap with another writer, so I’m posting mine here. Enjoy.

The 2022 NBA Draft will be held this Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and until then, the New York Knicks rumor mill will be grinding out heaps of content for your consumption. Luckily, I’m here to curate for you.

On Monday, Zach Braziller reported in the NY Post that Big Ten Player of the Year Johnny Davis (6’5”, 196 lbs, Wisconsin) feels positive about the prospect of playing for the Knicks.

“I feel that Tom Thibodeau is really high on defensive guys, so I feel like if I was to get drafted by the Knicks I could come in and make an impact immediately on the defensive end especially,” he said over Zoom on Monday.

In his sophomore season, Davis averaged 19.7 points, 8.2 boards, and 2.1 dimes. His 30% three-point shooting is a concern, but the talented wing finds other ways to score, and he gives good effort on defense.

The Knicks spoke with Davis at the Draft Combine in Chicago, but he did not have the pleasure of working out at their Tarrytown facility.

Don’t expect Johnny to wilt in the glare of New York’s bright lights. With a Taco Bell ad already in the can, the dude is already working on being a star.

Later in his article, Braziller reported that, unlike Davis, Mark Williams (7’2”, 243 lbs, Duke) did have an individual work out for the Knicks. In his sophomore season, the Blue Devil center averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks. 

With unrestricted free agent Mitchell Robinson still not re-signed and Nerlens Noel in a witness protection program, New York might deem it prudent to shore up its depth at the five.

“It went well. I feel like I went after it,” Williams said. “Every drill we did, I feel like I did pretty well. As far as fit, the things I bring to a team immediately, just a guy who’s going to run the floor, catch lobs, defend and protect the rim, want to win. Ultimately, [those are] the biggest things I can bring from Day 1.” 

Meanwhile, over at the Daily News, Stefan Bondy was talking Jaden Ivey(6’4”, 205 lbs, Purdue). 

According to Bondy, Ivey has not been in contact with the Sacramento Kings, who hold the fourth pick, which is where many Draft watchers rank the guard. 

“It’s not a conscious decision,” he said. “I never really made the decision not to talk to Sacramento. It just kind of happened.”

Reportedly, the Kings are open to trading the pick, and Ivey mentioned the Knicks as a team that could land him. As Bondy pointed out, “Ivey is represented by CAA, which is closely associated with the Knicks because it counts team executives Leon Rose and William Wesley as former employees.”

At CAA, Ivey shares an agent with another Knick, Julius Randle. Bondy quoted him as saying:

“Obviously a tremendous opportunity. A tremendous organization in the New York Knicks,” Ivey said. “Obviously I’d be honored to be able to play there. I think they recently just played the playoffs (in 2021). I feel like I can complement that organization and help them win if they drafted me.”

Moving up for Ivey sure seems like a long shot, but he’s a talent worthy of making the attempt. For the Boilermakers last season, he averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Think of him as a taller, broader version of Ja Morant. Intrigued?

Another name in Knicks news is Tari Eason (6’8”, 215 lbs, LSU). An exciting wing, Eason averaged 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds last season. His recognitions include: 2020-21 AAC All-Freshman – 1st Team, 2021-22 All-SEC – 1st Team, and 2021-22 SEC Sixth Man of the Year. 

Rather than moving up in the draft, the Knicks could trade down for a mid-round player like Eason. Then they’d get their man and maybe another draft pick, too. Leon Rose & Co. jumped up and down the draft boards the past two years. Don’t be surprised if they do so again. 

Finally, there’s AJ Griffin (6’6”, 222 lbs, Duke) still hovering in the wings. The ACC All-Freshman averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 boards in 39 games this season. Forbes reports that the Ossining, NY native would be thrilled to don the blue and orange.

“Obviously, I grew up here and I think that would just be a fun time in New York. I know the plays and I know most of the players. It would be really, really, really good. I don’t know what emotions I would be feeling about that [getting drafted by the Knicks.] I just know it would be exciting. I played at MSG two times last year, it’s just an experience like no other. It would just be an amazing experience.”

Griffin is a promising prospect whose injury history has scared some teams off. If his knee troubles are behind him, Griffin could be an electric player in the NBA.

As a fellow Blue Devil, he has talked with RJ Barrett a time or two. On the subject of playing with RJ, AJ said, “I think just from watching him play and how he plays I think we could be good together.”

Griffin’s last workout was with the Knicks and he called it “great.” In addition, he worked out for San Antonio, New Orleans, Portland, and Indiana.

Cam Reddish to miss rest of regular season

A separated shoulder will sideline the 22-year old wing for six weeks.

Yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Cam Reddish is done for the regular season.

The 6’8”, 210 lbs small forward came down hard on a play against the Kings last Monday and separated his right shoulder. The news is that Cam will need six weeks to recuperate, therefore finishing his season—unless, of course, the Knicks reach and go deep into the playoffs.

Reddish will be able to participate in the usual off-season activities.

The injury is especially unfortunate for a player whom the team sought to evaluate before deciding if they will offer him an extension this summer. Now, an extension becomes highly unlikely, given how little the Knicks’ front office has seen him play with his blue & orange teammates.

After asking Atlanta to trade him because he wanted more minutes, Reddish was swapped in deal for Kevin Knox II in January. He arrived in New York and…sat. He was nursing an ankle injury that sidelined him for few contests, but when he was eligible, coach Tom Thibodeau hazed him for most of the next seven games. The coach gave him multiple DNPs and paltry minutes, which seemed odd because size-wise, he profiles like a Thibs-kinda player: long, strong, and athletic.

Due to injuries, however, Cam’s minutes increased to 16 per game over the last 12 outings. The eyeballs say that he’s a valuable player who is capable of good defense. When the injury occurred, he had just started to gel with his new colleagues, especially former Duke running mate, RJ Barrett. In his last four games, Cam averaged eight points, 2.5 rebounds and a steal, and that includes a 17-point performance in a win over the Clippers. Plus, Cam makes his free throws,, which has been an Achilles heel for this team.

So, this is disappointing news for a fan base that is excited to see what the Norristown boy can do. Get well quick, Cam. We might need you in the playoffs.

To read my other Knicks’ writings, visit https://www.postingandtoasting.com.

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT! “NOCTURNAL MEDLEY: Fourteen Weird Tales”

Out today! “Nocturnal Medley: Fourteen Weird Tales” by Russell Richardson.

A struggling Hollywood writer and her grandmother enter a dangerous pact…a child gets a disturbing education in the attic…a pair of bandits flee across a desert…a strange arrival upends a family in 1800’s Boston…a pair of werebears disobey the dictum of their clan…a celebrated inventor raises the suspicions of an older mentor…an aging medium and a deceased Rastafarian embark on a road trip….

Pull the blankets to your chin and settle in to this medley of fourteen weird tales, a loving homage to Stephen King, The Twilight Zone, and Tales from the Crypt. This mix of five previously published stories and nine hot off the presses are guaranteed to chill your bones and disturb your sleep.

Buy your copy now at Amazon.com.

Hornets 104, Knicks 96: “This one is on Thibs”

The second unit almost saves it.

The Charlotte Hornets sizzled to start the season 5-2, but fizzled and lost five straight. They brought a 6-7 record into Friday’s game against the Knicks.

On Wednesday, New York lost an ugly one to the Bucks. With a record of 2-4 at home and 5-1 away, the Bockers must have been relieved to be on the road again, against a beatable team.

If you’d watched only the first half of this one, you’d be relieved, too. The Knickerbockers were dominating. They had a sizeable lead. However, if you’ve tuned in regularly this season, you could guess what would happen after intermission.

Read the recap at Posting and Toasting.

Pacers 111, Knicks 98: “Ahhh, the good old fake comeback”

5-24 from deep and sloppy defense as the Knicks drop second straight.

The New York Knicks traveled to the Gainbridge Fieldhouse to face the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. At 5-2, the Knicks were coming off a deflating defeat to the Raptors in which they surrendered 38 points in the third quarter.

The 2-6 Pacers had just won 131-118 against the Spurs. While no offensive juggernaut, they scored 78 points in the first half against San Antonio. With two losses by one point and one by three, their record could easily have been 5-3.

Records can misleading, friends. I knew this game would be close. I didn’t expect the Knicks to never have a lead, though. Yeah, it was that kind of night.

Terrible game, fun recap. Read it at Posting and Toasting.