Sunday, September 30, 2007

New York Knicks

New York Knicks seasons preview

Projected line-up
G Stephon Marbury
G Jamal Crawford
F Quinton Richardson
F Zach Randolph
C Eddy Curry

David Lee
Jared Jeffries
Renaldo Balkmen
Nate Robinson

Last year
Coming off the worst season in franchise history, the Knicks and Isiah Thomas had officially become a joke to any and all basketball fans. With a pay roll that was almost double the salary cap, no amount of money could kill the doubt every NBA fan had about the chances of this team succeeding. The questions started to much did Larry Brown and his record number of starting line-ups contribute to the downfall this franchise had seen? Could Isiah bring them back to the playoffs and prove that he knows how to build a successful team? Could Starbury and Stevie Franchise co-exist in the back court? Was Eddy Curry a bust?

Some, No, No, and somewhat.

I think everyone except for the New York Knicks and Spike Lee knew before the season started that this team was not going to be seeing any type of action past April 15th. And if they were trying to avoid drama last year, they did a horrible job in doing so. From the "Isiah has one year" drama to the minor Starbury vs Isiah problem in late November/early December. Throw in a nice little brawl for all on December 16 vs Denver. And why not include the play of Jared Jeffries, another addition to the roster full of overpaid players who produce nothing. And of course the issues with David Lee deserving a starting spot that Isiah refused to give. The drama didn't even wait for the start of the season, that's how special of a year it was, when Renaldo Balkman received the best reaction I have ever heard from a crowd during a draft. It's true that the Knicks were in the playoff hunt till late in the season when injuries struck in a big way but so was Indiana, and the Pacers lost 17 out of 19 during March. Saying that you were close but lost out in the East playoff race in 2006-2007is not something to exactly be proud of.

Traded Channing Frye and Steve Francis for Zach Randolph & Fred Jones & Dan Dickau
Drafted Wilson Chandler
Traded a 2008 2nd round pick to Portland for Demetris Nichols
Traded Cash to the Clips for Jared Jordan

Isiah said he wouldn't do much this off season. I guess he meant number of deals. I don't know much about Wilson Chandler except that he didn't get the Rolando treatment from NY during the draft. As for the big trade, this will help the Knicks score a few more wins next season. When we look at the 5 players involved, Fred Jones is not going to win a team any championships nor will Dickau (who is in the process of getting bought out as we speak) and getting rid of Francis is a good thing for NY. So when it comes down to Frye and Randolph it's simple, Frye is nice and has upside but Randolph is proven. For what they gave up in getting a proven 20-10 guy, Isiah might have scored on this one.

The key word here is MIGHT have scored. Because this trade is the definition of a high risk/high reward type of deal. The reward is having one of the more dominant front courts in the league who will control the paint with ease against almost every team. Also now having someone who can actually get a few boards unlike the other half of this power combo. The risk side, of course, is that Zach Randolph will have too much fun in NY and get into all kinds of off the court trouble. I think that's possible but if I was a Knicks fan I would worry more about the fact that as big as these two guys are, they won't be winning any type of 100m dash any time soon. The Suns are going to run circles around these guys. Sure the Curry/Randolph combo is going to get a few baskets, but I just don't see them putting up the amount of points they are going to need to win games. Defense was not a strong suit for the Knicks last year, and I don't see how they improved that much this year. On top of the shaky D, they still have the major problem which is Starbury and his effect on team chemistry, they still have the team's best rebounder in David Lee on the bench (although if he gets 30 minutes a game, it's not the end of the world), they still have Isiah running the show. A healthy Q. Richardson with the addition of Zach Randolph very well could put this band of characters back in the playoffs but does this team even come close to having a chance tat winning a championship? And if the players, Isiah Thomas and James Dolan and New York Knick fans are satisfied with just making it past April 15th, aren't they missing the point?

What to watch for:
1) Zach and Eddy - When the Knicks win, everything should be fine. But wait for those 3 or 4 game losing streaks. Then let's see how well these two (and the team overall) plays together
2) Starbury - He is the self-appointed star, and he is going to be in for some major mood swings this year as he has fallen down to number 3 on the offensive pecking order.
3) Isiah Thomas - Watching him deal with his mess has been quite enjoyable so far. Hopefully that continues.

Sorry Knick fans, but I can't say that I expect this team to do any damage this (or any) season. Sure they are a stronger team and more powerful with the inside game, but the weaknesses are still there. With the league going small ball, other teams are going to be able to run circles around the Knicks.

Between 38 and 42 wins this season with a 9th place overall in the East

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