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New York Knicks Falling Further From Pre-Season Expectations

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Rose vs Bucks

 

After going through the customary post-game handshakes and offering a few positive cliches to the media, there wasn’t any reason for the New York Knicks to feel good about themselves as they headed to the locker room following last Friday’s 116-111 victory in Milwaukee.

While desperately needed, the victory served as a depressing reminder that the Knicks hadn’t won a single game since defeating the mediocre Orlando Magic at home on December 22. And throughout the six-game slide that immediately followed that pre-Christmas win at the Garden, head coach Jeff Hornacek’s squad had been exposed as a defensively vulnerable team with questionable depth, an injured superstar, and an extremely uncertain future.

By now, the Knicks were supposed to be among the Eastern Conference elite and scouting sharp-shooters ahead of February’s trade deadline in an attempt to catch the Cleveland Cavaliers during the season’s second half. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, and after the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee during the off-season, even some skeptics had this team locked in to the conference’s playoff picture as a legitimate threat to LeBron.

As one of the Knicks’ only consistent positives, second year standout Kristaps Porzingis has taken on a bigger role than expected despite his youth. But the youngster isn’t blind to his team’s many shortcomings, and Porzingis recently told the media that the Knicks have a long way to go before becoming the team that so many are expecting them to be.

”In the moment we were four games out of .500, I said it—I don’t see ourselves as that good of a team yet,” said a concerned Porzingis. ”We were still growing. We were winning games, but we still had a lot to learn. It was a good moment based on our talent, but we weren’t there yet and now it’s showing. We got to figure this out and keep growing as a team. It’s not coming together yet. It’s frustrating.”

Perhaps most frustrating is the fact that the Knicks [17-22], who were sitting in 11th place entering Wednesday night’s action, have even struggled to keep pace with last year’s 32-50 team. Through their first 39 games of last season, Derek Fisher’s Knicks stood at 19-20 before falling flat on their collective faces. But those Knicks didn’t drop a fortune to start a former league M.V.P., a recent NBA Defensive Player Of The Year, and previously under-appreciated shooting guard Courtney Lee, alongside Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony in an attempt to win now.

Thus far, point guard Derrick Rose has been at the heart of New York’s problems. On Monday, Rose used an unexcused absence to skip New York’s cross-conference loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, and Hornacek chose to bench the former Chicago Bull for the entire fourth quarter of recent games against Milwaukee and the Indiana Pacers due primarily to late-game inconsistency and his often reckless approach, making way for throwback rookie Ron Baker.

While Rose was the answer to New York’s point guard problems a few months ago, his rumored rift with Hornacek and a series of sub-par performances has some fans hoping that Baker will experience a Jeremy Lin-like rise that will magically move the Knicks back into the playoff picture. In the meantime, Baker is just grateful for an opportunity that he’s been waiting for since the summer.

”At the beginning of the year, I had a meeting with Jeff [Hornacek] and he had mentioned something about January,” said Baker via The New York Post. ”If I stayed on the right path as I did in pre-season, I’ll be fine. I wasn’t concerned after that meeting, but I’m trying to keep improving obviously.”

Along with porous perimeter defense and a lack of offensive chemistry, the Knicks’ growing list of concerns also includes the shoulder injury that continues to plague Anthony, and to a lesser extent, the achilles injury that recently caused Porzingis to miss a trio of consecutive contests during his team’s six-game slide.

Regardless of what Phil Jackson envisioned for his new-look Knicks, it’s safe to say that it didn’t involve a healthy Rose being benched for a former Wichita State walk-on named Ron Baker, and after acquiring what are supposed to be several high-price pieces of New York’s playoff puzzle during the off-season, The Zen Master obviously wasn’t planning to entertain trade offers for his shiny new point guard ahead of next month’s deadline.

But that’s the reality Jackson has helped to create, and at some point, the franchise must forget about his sparkling resume and history in New York, and hold him responsible for leading the Knicks into what already looks like a very expensive disaster.

NBA

Eagles’ Jalen Mills Arrested

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Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested in Washington D.C following an altercation with Washington Wizards player Devin Robinson, according to the Associated Press’ Howard Fendrich (via the Washington Post).

Both men were charged with disorderly affray, which is described as fighting in a public place.

According to the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, a verbal altercation broke out between the two that escalated into a physical fight that took place on the sidewalk.

Robinson was transported to a hospital following the fight with Mills and upon his release he was taken to to department’s 2nd District station where Mills was detained.

Mills and Robinson were “involved in a verbal altercation which escalated into a physical altercation on the sidewalk adjacent to the Opera Night Club” in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the police report.

Both teams have since responded, with the Wizards essentially parting ways with Robinson due to the incident.

“We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions. We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season,” the Wizards said in a statement.

The Eagles issued a statement saying that they are “aware of the situation” and “continuing to gather more information.”

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Dallas Mavericks

Mavs’ Kristaps Porzingis Accused of Rape in New York

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Dallas Mavericks big man and former New York Knick Kristaps Porzingis is being investigated back New York for an alleged rape that a woman told police took place sometime last year, according to the New York Post.

The woman, who informed police about the alleged rape on Thursday, says that she waited more than a year to come forward regarding the incident because she had discussed receiving $68,000 from Porzingis to keep quiet.

Roland G. Riopelle, the attorney for Porzingis, has since denied the allegations and has said they had previously referred the case to federal authorities due to the “accuser’s extortionate demands.”

“We are aware of the complaint that was made against Mr. Porzingis on Friday and unequivocally deny the allegations,” Riopelle said. “We made a formal referral to federal law enforcement on Dec. 20, 2018, based on the accuser’s extortionate demands. We also alerted the National Basketball Association months ago, and they are aware of the ongoing investigation of the accuser by federal law enforcement. We cannot comment further on an ongoing federal investigation. Please refer any questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the National Basketball Association.”

The woman alleges that the incident took place on February 7th, 2018, at the Sky building in New York, where Porzingis lived, just hours following Porzingis suffering a torn ACL, the injury that has kept him off the court for more than a year.

An NBA spokesman said the league is aware of the situation while the Knicks’ team spokesperson said; “This is Kristaps’ personal matter and not related to the Knicks.” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated that the team is aware of the situation but “we have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment.”

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks had informed the Mavericks of the pending Porzingis rape allegations during a trade call with NBA headquarters, that took place on January 31st,  that finalized the deal that sent Porzingis to the Mavericks.

A spokesman for the New York Police Department issued the following: “The NYPD takes sexual assault and all rape cases extremely seriously, and urges anyone who has been a victim to file a report so we can perform a comprehensive investigation, and offer support and services to survivors.”

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Golden State Warriors

Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins Says Fans Have Called Him ‘N—-r’, Says He’s Reported it to League

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Golden State Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins is speaking out about how NBA fans treat players, revealing that fans have called him the N-word during games and stating that he had reported the incidents to the league.

Cousins discussed the incidents during an interview with Chris Haynes on the ‘Posted Up’ podcast:

“Oh, I’ve been called n—-r, and it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back, and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ [Westbrook] and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league. So, I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does, it become important?”

While Cousins spoke candidly about his experiences, he did not specific which cities in which he heard the racial slurs.

“I don’t really want to, because I’m not really trying to put a label on an entire fan base” Cousins said when discussing which cities he heard the slurs. T”here are ignorant individuals in every city. I’ll just put it like that. [NBA] tells you to ignore it, or whatever the case may be. But how many times am I supposed to ignore that? Me coming from where I come from [Mobile, Alabama]. They lucky all they got was a response.”

While Cousins did not mention any cities or teams, Haynes reported that one city was Sacramento, where Cousins spent the majority of his career playing for the Kings.

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