Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Knicks do the impossible...

When Donnie Walsh took over basketball operations for the franchise formally known as the New York Knicks he knew the task at hand. He knew how far this franchise had fallen and he knew how heavily the deck of cards was stacked against him. But decades in the game, the ability to evaluate talent, his personal relationships and some luck have now almost completely gotten the Knicks out of the dark cave they have been trapped in since the beginning of the decade. We know the first guy on their list is LeBron James. There are also three other All-NBA level players in Dwayne Wade, Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash who will also be available in 2010. The Knicks should have enough cap room to add two or perhaps three of these outstanding talents.

There are some questions that must be asked.
First, who do you want to keep around from this current team? I'd say Al Harrington, whose contract is up after next season would be a guy the Knicks would want to stay but at a reduced rate to be part of the turnaround. I also feel like Chris Duhon, David Lee and Nate Robinson would also want to be here when the Knicks reload and be role players on a team that will need those pieces to put around which ever stars are brought in.

Secondly, should the playoffs be a goal for the Knicks this season?
We know D'Antoni has to say he is still thinking playoffs but is that realistic?
Can they mesh these new pieces that quickly during the season with minimal practice time into a consistently competitive team that will challege for a seven or eight seed? At first thought I said no, but the more I thought about it the more it seems like it could happen and here is why: Familiarity. All three of the new Knicks have experience either with Walsh, D'Antoni or the current New York style of play that D'Antoni brought from Phoenix. Cutino Mobley is a pro's pro who will immediately fill the starting role at the shooting guard position. Where Jamal Crawford was a streak shooter and took many questionable shots Mobley much more efficient and is an upgrade defensively. Tim Thomas has his most productive season under D'Antoni which followed a less than stellar first stint with the Knicks. His skill set will fit what the Knicks do on the perimeter. If he chooses to play any defense it will be a welcomed bonus. Al Harrington, who Donnie Walsh drafted with the Pacers is a perfect fit for the current New York style of play. A 6'9" forward that can get to the rim but more importantly can stretch the defense with his three point shooting range and play solid defense. These three players should fit in well, the question that can only be answered on the court is how quickly will it happen?

Third, are the Knicks done making moves? With the stench of the Stephon Marbury situation still in the air will the Knicks now go the distance and drive him out of town once and for all? This latest episode in Milwaukee after the trades which left the Knicks with 8 active players and Marbury refusing to take the cour should signal it is time to officially cut ties. Yes, the team said it was going in another direction and I respect D'Antoni for his stance on this but I must get on marbury yet again for not getting it. When you make $20 million per season from your home town team that has been on a steady dismise partly because of your lack of performance and attitude the least you could do is help out the guys who are giving there all and take the court one night. After all Marbury is reportedly in the "best shape of his career". It would have been a good idea to showcase that hope someone would be dumb enough to trade for you and your contract, no? Maybe that just has to much depth for Marbury.

Tomorrow night is when the fun really begins. LeBron comes to town with his Cavs and the Garden will be buzzing. I can only wonder what will be going on in LeBron's head when he comes out for warm-ups tomorrow night to the cheers of the New York fans. You can bet that Cavs organization wants to get tomorrow night over with in New York as soon possible...

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