On This Date: Carmelo Anthony hits game-winning shot against Timberwolves

November 30, 2016:  Carmelo Anthony hits game winner over Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves

Carmelo Anthony countered an off-shooting night by making the game-winning basket against Andrew Wiggins. Melo used his signature jab-step to get space against Wiggins to hit the midrange jump shot. This was Melo’s 2nd game-winning basket in 5 days hitting the go-ahead shot against the Charlotte Hornets. Continue reading →

On This Date: Knicks sign Ron Baker

August 1st 2016: The New York Knicks sign Ron Baker

The New York Knicks officially inked Ron “Ron Burgundy” Baker to a contract. Without a draft pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Phil Jackson immediately invited Burgundy to the Summer League squad. The Knicks subsequently signed Baker to a non-guaranteed contract.

The Wichita State alum, and former teammate of Cleanthony Early, came into the league with a reputation as a tough defensive guard who could also hit the open 3. Burgundy was a combo guard who had PG skills. Despite being only 6’3, his 6’8 wingspan allowed him to defend taller guards and small forwards.

Baker made the Knicks opening night roster. He split his time between the Knicks roster and the G-League team. He played 52 NBA games in his rookie campaign and started 13 of those games after the Knicks waived Brandon Jennings & Derrick Rose suffered a season ending knee injury.

His rookie season led Steve Mills to give Baker a 2 year contract worth $8.9 million. Due to Mills’ other more infamous move that offseason1, this contract went under the rug. This was one of the more questionable signings, but somewhat justifiable due to his defensive efforts.

Unfortunately, Baker’s 2017-18 was marred by multiple injuries. An ankle sprain kept him out of the beginning of the season. Additionally, Baker suffered a shoulder injury rehabilitating from his ankle sprain that would foreshadow his downfall later in the year. To add insult to injury, Burgundy was the victim of a nasty Anthony Davis poster that resulted in a fractured orbital bone. The final nail to the season was when he tore his right labrum diving for a loose ball against the Nets in January 2018. He missed the remainder of the season.

Due to the plethora of Knick guards on the roster, Baker received minimal playing time to start the 2018-19 season. The Knicks later waived him to create room to sign Allonzo Trier to an NBA contract. Baker later signed with the Wizards, but eventually underwent surgery again on his torn right labrum.

Burgundy recently signed with CSKA Moscow to regain footing in his young basketball career.

On This Date: Knicks agree to sign Brandon Jennings

July 4th 2016: The New York Knicks agree to sign Brandon Jennings to a contract

The Knicks completed their blockbuster 2016 offseason by signing Brandon Jennings to a 1 year $5 million contract using their midlevel exception. Jennings spent much of the previous season recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered during the 2014-15 campaign.

Jennings publicly desired to play in New York dating back to the 2009 NBA Draft. He expressed frustration after the Knicks didn’t draft him and often sought revenge whenever facing the team in Madison Square Garden.

Jennings entered the season as the team’s backup point guard. He occasionally dazzled the MSG crowd with his flashy passing. Unfortunately, his offensive and defensive abilities clearly didn’t recover from before the Achilles injury.

After desiring an opportunity to join a playoff contender, the Knicks waived Jennings before the March 1st deadline to sign Chasson Randle. Jennings subsequently signed with the Washington Wizards for the remainder of the season. Since that season, Jennings hopped between playing with the Milwaukee Bucks organization (both G-League and NBA), and overseas in China and Russia.

On This Date: Derrick Rose goes missing

January 9, 2017: Derrick Rose goes missing

In one of the many bizarre events of the 2016-17 season, Derrick Rose disappears shortly before a Monday night home game against the New Orleans Pelicans. D-Rose attended shoot-around in the afternoon, but left unannounced soon after. The team later announced that Rose was not with the team due to a “family situation.”

The mysterious disappearance confused everyone from the coaching staff to the players. No one seemed to know where Rose was and whether his well-being was ok. Brandon Jennings started for Rose in his absence as the Knicks lost 110-96 against the Pelicans.

In a sign of a frustrating night, both Carmelo Anthony and Kyle O’Quinn were ejected from the game. Melo received two technical fouls and O’Quinn committed a flagrant 2 foul on Anthony Davis. Davis injured his hip on the play and exited the game as a result.

Rose returned to the team the next day, but the team fined him $200,000 for a failure to properly communicate in a timely response. He admitted he flew to Chicago to attend to a family matter. Rose did apologize to his teammates, coaching staff, and front office. There was an initial rumor of discontent with head coach Jeff Hornacek due to his 4th quarter benching against the Bucks, but Rose dispelled that thought in a post-practice interview.

While Rose had his best overall year since his run with injuries, the 2016-17 season was frustrating for both him and the team. Rose regained a lot of his quickness and athleticism, but was lackluster on the defensive end. His season was cut short due to torn cartilage in his knee that required arthroscopic surgery.

On This Date: The Chris Smith era ends

December 31, 2013: The New York Knicks waive Chris Smith

As perhaps an auspicious start to a new year, the Knicks waived Chris “Da Gawd” Smith, the brother of JR Smith, to re-sign Jeremy Tyler.

Da Gawd initially joined the Knicks 2012 Summer League team. The team gave him a training camp invite, but was cut before the season after suffering a season-ending left patella injury that required surgery.

Smith re-appeared on the 2013 Summer League team. The Knicks subsequently signed him to a contract that guaranteed him $490,000 if he was on the opening day roster. Because Jeremy Tyler underwent foot surgery before training camp, Smith made the roster and received his guaranteed salary. Tyler was cleared to play in December for the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks D-League affiliate.

Da Gawd played all of 2 uneventful minutes with the Knicks. He hasn’t appeared in the NBA since and is currently a free agent. He last played for the Maccabi Kiryat Motzkin of the Liga Leumit. 

After the Knicks waived Chris Smith, JR Smith posted an instagram photo alluding to “betrayal:”

View this post on Instagram

#OnceAgain

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

Fans, media, and players alike criticized the signing as a sign of nepotism. Additionally, the move reeked of a favor made to CAA, the agency that represented both the Smiths, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Woodson, and many members of the Knicks & MSG Sports. Brandon Jennings squabbled with JR Smith on Twitter about the signing. The NBA later fined JR $25,000 after sending a tweet threatening to send “street homies” to Detroit.

When JR Smith signed a 3-year, $18 million extension in the summer of 2013, it’s possible that one of the stipulations was to sign Chris to a contract. This was also part of a larger ploy to retain Carmelo Anthony in the summer of 2014. Both Melo & JR Smith are close friends dating back to their days with the Nuggets.

Although Melo re-signed with the Knicks, the CAA influence slowly dissipated. Metta World Peace alluded to many of the issues with CAA when he was cut in February 2014. Additionally, Phil Jackson slowly removed a lot of the CAA handlers and staffers associated within the organization.

Despite the vitriol against the Smiths, the one silver lining out of this ordeal was Chris Brickley. Brickley played a year of basketball with Chris Smith at Louisville under Rick Pitino. He eventually trained both of the Smiths over the next two seasons. With the recommendation of JR Smith & Rick Pitino, the Knicks hired Brickley in 2013 as a player development coach.

Brickley confided with Melo during his tenure with the organizations. His workouts with Melo became notorious on Instagram and sparked future workouts with NBA stars alike. Due to the increased popularity, the Knicks & Brickley mutually parted ways in 2017. For Brickley, this allowed him to expand his horizons beyond just the Knicks. For the Knicks, this allowed the team to keep some of their player development protocols in secret for purposes of competitive advantage.

Brickley later formed the BlackOps basketball training and workout program. He runs sessions during the offseason for high school, college and NBA players alike. The sessions include individual drills and scrimmages. 

Most of the sessions are held at Life Time Athletic at Sky, a gym designed by Melo that opened in 2016. Coincidentally, Kristaps Porzingis rents a few penthouses in Sky that gives him unlimited access to the Life Time Athletic health club and basketball court.