Knicks beat reporter Al Iannazzone took questions from Twitter followers this week as the team prepares for a few inter-conference matchups. Here are 10 answers:
@RyanMNorman: What has been your assessment of this team so far? Underachieving or overachieving?
Iannazzone: I would say they are right about where I expected them from a record standpoint. It takes a while for three new starters and six or seven new rotation guys overall to mesh, even more so with Derrick Rose missing 2 ½ weeks of preseason and practices for his civil trial. But a couple of things that are concerning is their defense most nights and their lack of effort and energy on the road. You can’t fall behind by 20 regularly and expect to win.
@TheRealDominicC: Since the Knicks continue to leave Noah on the bench during the end of games, would they explore trading him?
Iannazzone: Noah makes $72 million over four years and he hasn’t played well even when healthy. I can’t see any team wanting that contract. That said, it’s a long season and Noah is a proud and proven player, “a winner,” according to Derrick Rose. The Knicks signed Noah for his intensity, leadership, defense, selflessness and passing. It’s a long season. I think he will be able to help the Knicks at some point.
@russell_javier: Do the #Knicks plan on having Noah come off the bench since they always have “slow start” in games? #Frustrated
Iannazzone: There were a number of Noah-related questions, many about him coming off the bench. I don’t see it at this point, but never say never. He came off the bench for the Bulls last year, but they had more veterans up front. The Knicks aren’t ready to make the move to start Willy Hernangomez. Noah doesn’t move as well as he used to, but he still is a strong rebounder and can play physically and be an enforcer when he’s on the floor with Kristaps Porzingis. Few teams play conventional lineups for the bulk of games anymore, so Noah probably isn’t a 30-minute player now. Unless he starts making an impact he may continue to be a spectator at the end of games. But it’s a long season. His time may come.
@sblez: When do we trade melo and allow this to be Porzingis’ team? Why aren’t we tanking?
Iannazzone: Tanking makes no sense for this team. Phil Jackson wants to preside over a playoff team. He brought in mostly playoff-tested veterans to help Anthony and Porzingis get there this season. The Knicks believe they can be dangerous at full strength. It’s also good for Porzingis to be playing meaningful games late in the season and possibly postseason games. As for your first question, it will be Porzingis’ team soon enough. Anthony has a no-trade clause so he’s not going anywhere unless if maybe a title contender wants him. But he wants to stay here, and he’s become a more complete player as he’s gotten older. Also it’s overlooked too often that Anthony is helping Porzingis. All the attention Anthony draws opens things up for Porzingis.
@SuasoProd: Can Porzingis statistically reach Patrick Ewing numbers?
Iannazzone: Porzingis is off to a good start to his career, better than anyone expected (besides himself). He wants to be an All-Star and has a chance this season. But it’s hard to say whether he will reach Ewing’s numbers. He was a Hall of Famer, an all-time great who played his heart out every single night and put the Knicks on his back. Porzingis is much more versatile but not the defender or rebounder Ewing was – yet. Porzingis also has to show he can carry a team consistently. But Porzingis looks like this generation’s Ewing for Knicks fans: a franchise player, a centerpiece to build around and count on for years.
@DiamondNealauto: I know that KP is growing day by day, but wouldn’t a sky hook that no center utilizes cement his young game?
Iannazzone: He wants a signature move and shot, and may try to pick one up from Dirk Nowitzki if they work out together in the summer as planned. I’m not sure the sky hook is the answer. Only one person mastered it. Porzingis is still learning how to play in the post and use his size against guards or even some big forwards. He has the advantage on most occasions. But he still has work to do, and Porzingis is willing to put in the work. He wants to be great.
@ToddNeikirk: What % chance is there that Jennings ends up playing more than Rose at some point
Iannazzone: I don’t see it unless Rose gets hurt. Rose will continue to start and finish games. He’s constantly applying pressure on the defense, is tremendous in pick-and-rolls and few attack the basket the way Rose does. He’s a former MVP and one of the most competitive players in the league. Jennings is a much better passer than I thought. He has tremendous vision and sets up his teammates well. He also ignites the second unit with his energy. That’s a good role for him. Sometimes he gets a little too excited and can make questionable decisions. You can see Jeff Hornacek get a little frustrated with some of them from time to time. But Rose and Jennings are effective, apart or together. When was the last time you could say that about two Knicks point guards?
@Dattfranco: Can you see Lance Thomas and O’Quinn as trade bait?
Iannazzone: The Knicks tried to move O’Quinn over the summer. Although he’s given them some good minutes they could explore it again, especially as Willy Hernangomez continues to improve. It says a lot that Hornacek trusts Hernangomez at the end of games. But O’Quinn has been serviceable this season. The Knicks were counting on Thomas to be one of their “glue guys” off the bench. He’s a selfless player and good defender, but he has been banged up since the second game of the season. I believe they’re still banking on him being a reliable player off the bench when he comes back from injury.
@SDeecken: Thoughts on Kuz play so far? I think he can be a consistent scorer off the bench for us once he gets more mins
Iannazzone: Mindaugas Kuzminskas has looked pretty good. He hit a huge shot in the win over Portland last week. With him, the belief was he’d be able to contribute once he got used to the league. Kuzminskas is 27 and has played a lot of basketball in Europe. He plays with a lot of energy, is fearless and has a nice shot. He looks like a good pick up.
@4to700: We see many stars around NBA rest. Knicks play 8 games next two weeks, expect Melo/Rose to rest?
Iannazzone: They both say they want to play every game so that remains to be seen. But the Knicks’ schedule isn’t that bad. They have only two sets of back-to-backs for the remainder of this calendar year. Most of their games are every other day or following a couple days of off. They have time to rest.