I’m on a Jorts Tour, with Amar’e My Man….

Supplies won't last

The talent and impact of Knicks’ rookie forward Josh “Jorts” Harrellson might have been a touch overstated by certain writers of this blog (fine, it was me). While that may have been an overreaction to his breakout game against the Kings on New Year’s Eve, there is one area where he is sure to make a lasting impression on fans for years to come: high comedy and stellar branding efforts.

Jorts has a shockingly well developed website for a mid-second round draft choice who didn’t get much playing time until his senior year at Kentucky and had a fairly slim chance of making an NBA roster, let alone an NBA rotation. It includes such gems as the “Jorts Tour” that barnstormed its way through several Wendy’s and Wal-Marts in Kentucky this spring (that is not a joke). There is a promotional video in which Josh exhibits his overwhelming disdain for punctuation of any sort. But wait, there’s more!! Read more of this post


Defending What Toney Douglas Do

You may or may not know the quasi famous (at least on Knicks blogs) acronym, but Toney Douglas has long had a saying, which he explained on his introduction to the NY media after acquiring him on draft night a few years ago.  When asked what he was going to bring to the floor, Toney explained he was going to “Do What Toney Douglas Do”, and DWTDD was born. 

To give a little background on the other woman in my basketball universe, I’m a psychotically bent Maryland Terps fan (we’re talking I religiously watch games on ESPN3 on my laptop against vaunted squads such as Radford, Samford and Florida Gulf Coast), which means I also have an unhealthy love of all things ACC basketball.  So, I’ve been lucky enough to have years advance notice on our recent backcourt youngins, Toney and Iman.  I’ve seen them destroy lesser college kids, battle the great Greivis Vasquez and mature on the court over a couple of years span, so I’d like to think it provides me a little insight into their games beyond what we have seen at the NBA level.  I love what they both represent; athletic, physical, defensive minded guards who play extremely hard.  They share those similarities, and those traits alone will keep each in an NBA rotation for the next decade.  But, they are different players, and it’s not always easy to fit a square peg into a round hole, or a combo guard into your starting PG spot.  A common mistake that I see NBA coaches making, whether it be out of necessity or ignorance, it’s trying to mold a player to fit the slot on the lineup they need to fill.  I have already seen that happen to one of these young guards, and I hope D’Antoni keeps that perspective on the other.
Hopefully, with Baron healthy at some point, this will be a moot point, and one of these kids will be the Bockers’ starting 2 (with Fields in the discussion, I guess…), with the other coming off the bench to provide some fire power.  I’ll throw my two cents in on “Shumpamania” at some point but, more than anything, I wanted to take my own opportunity to DWTDD or, in this case, Defend What Toney Douglas Do.

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What About Jerome Jordan?

Will Jared Jeffries' Return Fasten Jerome Jordan's Cheeks to the Bench?

If everything goes according to plan, the Knicks will have Jared Jeffries back on the active roster at some point this week. Knicks fans were reminded painfully that Jeffries is a limited player during Game 2 of the Boston series last year. However, a limited player is not necessarily a useless player. Jeffries can passably guard every position on the floor, which is a particularly useful skill on a Knicks team that occasionally seems pathologically committed to switching on ball screens. With the 6’11” Jeffries returning to the rotation, the Bockers’ front court rotation will consist of Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Jorts, and Jeffries, with Carmelo Anthony capable of playing the 4 in small ball lineups. The odd man out will be rookie center and former Serbian sensation Jerome Jordan,* which begs the question: what should the Knicks do with Jordan?

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Melo's game-winner had Knicks fans watching through their fingers when it went up (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I’m a nitpicker by nature. It drives my wife out of her mind. I have completely ruined going to the movies for the remainder of our marriage because I am chronically incapable of suspending disbelief. I cannot just enjoy the ride. In keeping with my nature, on the morning after the Knicks have climbed back to .500 by throttling the Pistons last night, I want to talk about how much I am bothered by Carmelo Anthony’s game-winner on Friday night against the Wizards.

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Rumor: Knicks “Willing” To Trade Amar’e for Dwight Howard

Great Friend of the Blog (and sole reader) Drew Rivera tweeted us about the rumor that the Knicks are willing to open up trade talks that would send Amar’e Stoudemire to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard.

Not Gonna Happen. Sorry, Knicks Fans.

I just don’t think this story has any legs. First, what would the parameters be and what would happen to Defensive Stalwart and Leader of Men Tyson Chandler, who the Knicks just (rashly) signed to fill the void in the pivot? Secondly, it’s important to keep the agency of this rumor in mind. The Knicks are willing to talk to the Magic about Howard for Stoudemire. Donny Marshall is also reporting that I am willing to trade my puke green 2009 Hyundai Elantra for Hugh Heffner’s house. My guess is that the Magic would be willing to listen for about 35 seconds before they hung up the phone. The Knicks have traded away their first round picks in 2012 (Jared Jeffries salary dump), 2014 (Melo deal), and 2016 (ditto) and lack any other young building blocks to entice the Magic to make this deal (Fields and Jorts aren’t going to cut it). Normally when a team trades its franchise player, it does so for some assets with future value, which the Knicks just don’t have.

As much as we’d all love to see Howard in New York next year, it’s likely we’ll have to settle for seeing him in Kings County, not MSG. When the Knicks signed Chandler they essentially locked themselves into the current iteration of the team’s core and it will take a miracle for that to change. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but the truth hurts.

Amar’e and Shump Shump Likely to Return

ESPN New York’s Ian Begley is reporting that Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert are both “likely” to suit up for tonight’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats, looking no worse the wear in 3-on-3 drills this morning. This should provide enormous relief to a Knicks roster that appeared to be stretched very thin in Monday’s loss to the Raptors.

Stoudemire will bolster the badly undermanned frontline, that saw Steve Novak log some minutes at power forward (a “super duper stretch 4”). Shumpert, who AY noted will give us all 12 embolisms this season (the Vegas Hilton has the over under at 10.5, take the over and thank me later) with his devil-may-care shot selection, is also sorely needed so that the Knicks can stop playing recently departed Walking Dead extra Mike Bibby.

Jorts: Shawne Williams 2, Electric Boogaloo?

Last season, the Knicks were able to get contributions from several unlikely sources, including Shawne Williams. Williams, a former first round pick of the Indiana Pacers when Donnie Walsh was at the helm, was a scrap heap reclamation project who was expected to get extremely limited minutes behind Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields, and Billy Walker. He spent the first 17 games of the season racking up DNPs, prompting Will Leitch to ponder whether he was even on the roster anymore in his always-entertaining Knicks Power Rankings.

We all know how the story played out. Williams worked his way into the rotation to become a key cog in the Knicks’ first run to the playoffs since 2001 by hitting open jumpshots, spacing the floor, and playing tough defense on the perimeter and in the post. When his contracted ended, Williams warmed Knicks fans’ hearts, saying he didn’t want to play anywhere other than New York in the 2011-2012 season. Of course, the Knicks front office is only loyal to people who are wildly incompetent (see: Thomas, Isiah), so Williams was left out in the cold as the Knicks played footsy with Jamal Crawford. Ultimately, the Nets swooped in with a bigger offer and Williams signed with New Jersey.

Coming into this season, it was unclear who would provide the production that left with Williams. Walker’s defense and decisionmaking are spotty, at best. Fields hit a rookie wall after the Carmelo Anthony trade, leaving significant doubts about his ability to improve upon the flashes of brilliance he showed in his first 50 games. Renaldo Balkman can’t shoot a lick. After Saturday night’s win against the Kings, it appears that Josh Harrellson – aka Jorts – might be exactly the player who can fill the void left by Williams.

Jorts, selected by the Hornets with the 45th pick in June’s draft and then traded to the Knicks, was an afterthought for many Knicks fan, including me. He was remembered as the loveable, lumbering big man from Kentucky’s Final Four run. It was assumed that his memory would evaporate into the ether with Kevin Pittsnogle and other shambling college big men who were appeared destined for a life of trailer parks and tales of glory days long past. It was doubtful whether he would even make the team.

When the labor cold war ended and the Knicks opened training camp and the abbreviated preseason, something strange happened: Jorts looked to be a useful NBA rotation player. More impressively, his range extended out the 3-point land where he shot 3-9 in two games against the Nets. Unfortunately, he looked tentative and lost in the first 3 games of the season. However, in the Knicks’ win over the Kings, Harrellson had by far his best games as pro, scoring 14 points while shooting 4-8 from behind the arc. He played solid defense, showing the ability to stay in front on John Salmons on the perimeter early in the game.

Then, in Monday’s night’s disappointing loss to the Raptors, Jorts reverted back to his old ways, clanking all 4 of his three-point attempts, including a shot off the side of the backboard that would have come closer to the rim if he’d kicked it. Encouragingly, Jorts hustled down the floor after two of these misses and drew a charge on the ensuing possession. Generally on the defensive end, he was abused regularly by Andrea Bargnani who beguiled the rookie with upfakes and post moves that you don’t see in the SEC.

That said, Jorts has shown glimpses of being a capable fill-in for Shawne Williams this season. He has flashed some range from deep and good hustle and headiness on defense. Right now, he’s probably in over his head with Jeffries and Stoudemire injured and is being exposed to a certain extent, as rookies often are. Make no mistake about it, Harrellson is a limited player who can fulfill a limited need, but role players are important cogs to winning teams. As a 3rd or 4th forward at 15 minutes per night, Jorts can provide serviceable relief to Stoudemire and Chandler at both power forward and center, while spacing the floor for the other bigs to work and playing solid, if slow-footed, defense. When a team has committed as much cap space to as few players as the Knicks have, they have to find ways to wring extra value from cheap assets like 2nd round picks and veteran wash-outs. Last year, New York was able to do just that, getting major contributions from Shawne Williams and Landry Fields. As the season progresses and the rotation rounds into form, Josh Harrellson will likely be counted on to help in small but meaningful ways. This will be more by necessity than design, as reserve forwards Jared Jeffries and Jerome Jordan are not viable rotation players for a playoff team. He will suffer some growing pains and the rollercoaster performances that come with learning how to play in the league, but by season’s end I think it’s possible that the Knicks will be relying on Jorts to come through with substantial performances in signficant minutes and he appears to have many of the tools to do so.