Al Iannazzone joined Newsday in January 2012 as the Knicks’ beat writer, after covering the NBA for 11 Show More
Arron Afflalo was minding his own business and putting on his sneakers in the Knicks locker room after Wednesday’s win when Carmelo Anthony was asked what the veteran shooting guard has added to the Knicks.
“Oh man,” Anthony said before shouting, “nothing!”
Everyone laughed, but no one longer than Afflalo, whose locker is right next to Anthony’s.
Afflalo and Anthony are close from when they played together in Denver. Anthony was behind the Afflalo signing over the summer. You can see why.
As of Friday, Afflalo had climbed over rookie Kristaps Porzingis and was second on the Knicks in scoring, averaging 13.6 points. Afflalo’s shooting percentage (47.8 percent) ranked second in the league among shooting guards behind Charlotte’s Jeremy Lamb.
The Knicks got Afflalo for two years and $16 million, which looks like money well spent at this point.
“He’s another dimension to this team,” Anthony said. “He’s another guy who can get it going on any given night. Another guy who we can throw it to him in the post, he can create like that, he can create on the perimeter. Some nights we rely on that a lot more than relying on me to carry the team.”
Afflalo scored 29 points Wednesday against Minnesota and took just 14 shots. He his entire offensive game was working, as he displayed the versatility that made him a priority in the offseason.
“He’s been really valuable,” Derek Fisher said.
Afflalo is known more for his defense and playing physically on that end of the floor. But Afflalo has given the Knicks a big punch offensively. He’s comfortable whatever role he’s in, and plays well off of Anthony.
“The idea for me was to be what the team needs,” he said. “I feel like I can score 30 or 25, and if it’s what’s best for the team then good. I can envision just being efficient, playing off Melo a little bit, playing within the flow of the triangle and using my versatile skill set to just take advantage of different situations.
“Melo sometimes is a guy who wants guys to create for him. He’s always the guy drawing double teams and drawing a lot of attention so when you get somebody like myself or Jose [Calderon] who is also capable of kind of getting in the paint and causing havoc a little bit it kind of frees him up. So I think it’s a good combination.”
No one’s laughing now.
In a giving mood
Before Wednesday’s game, Anthony received his NBA community assist award for November for helping children and families in need. He then dished out nine assists, just missing out on a triple-double.
Anthony said he’s trying to be more of a playmaker this season and “expanding that part of my game.” It was the tenth time in the first 25 games that Anthony either led the team in assists or tied for team-high honors.
“I know that especially coming off of my surgery and rehabbing and all of that and trying to get back into the flow of the game it was better for me to get guys going,” he said. “Just playing the flow of the game and sometimes the flow of the game causes me to find everybody else, and sometimes the flow causes me to go out there and do what I do best.”
The real holiday spirit
The best move and moment of the week went to LeBron James for jogging out of a timeout to go acknowledge and meet a 16-year-old Special Olympics athlete Aaron Miller, who was being in honored during the Cavs’ game in Boston. You could see the joy on Miller’s face.
James met Miller after the game and gave him his sneakers. James later posted a picture of the two of them on Instagram with the message,
“Love you kid! Continue to beat the odds, continue being a inspiration to us all and continue to #StriveForGreatness!”
Classy move all the way around by James, and one more players should emulate.
The Hall call
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced it is modifying its enshrinement process, allowing players to become eligible after four full seasons of retirement instead of five. That means Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming could be going in together next summer.
Before this change, O’Neal and Yao weren’t eligible until 2017. The list of eligible candidates will be announced Monday.
Learning from legends
Top overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns probably won’t be in the playoffs this year, but he landed in a good spot in Minnesota.
Towns looks like he will be a star. His development, along with that of second-year players Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, could come quicker because of the T-Wolves’ graybeards.
Kevin Garnett, who is in his 21st season, 16th-year veteran Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince, a 14th year pro, have played more than 4,000 NBA games combined. They’re teaching the young players how to be professional, have long productive careers and how to win. Towns is all ears when they talk.
“I was asleep one day and I woke up and came to practice and I told them how blessed we are because not only do we get to be with vets, but all-time greats,” Towns said. “Every day -from point guard, forward to centers.
“So it’s a blessing for our team to not only have vets that have been playing in this league a long time, but to have vets who are all-time greats at their position in the game of basketball.
Tis the season
Dec. 15 was the unofficial start of the trade season since most players signed or acquired over the summer can be dealt.
Some of the names reportedly drawing interest or who could be moved include Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, Suns forward Markieff Morris, T-Wolves guard Kevin Martin and Kings forward Caron Butler.
The Nets could look to move guard Joe Johnson before the Feb. 18 trade deadline since he is in the final year of his six-year, $124 million contract