HEAD COACH: MIKE D’ANTONI
G-ROGER MASON, JR.
OK, so this didn’t happen, much to this dismay of New Yorkers.
Truth be told, this off-season was not a failure for New York.
For one thing, (and this has been bothering me all summer) the last two seasons of suckery where not a waste, as so many people have said. Truth is, the team D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh inherited from Isiah was a distaster both on the court and in the wallet, and management’s job was to trim the payroll as much as possible for a run at the 2010 free agent bonanza. There was no second option, seeing as how the $100 million dollar roster Thomas left them was losing 50 games every year anyway. So regardless of whether they would have totally struck out in free-agency (they didn’t), the last two years of tanking would not have been a waste, but a necessary step in rebuilding a moribund franchise.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
This team is going in the right direction now. Seriously.
I mean, nobody would argue that Amar’e Stoudemire for 100 million was plan A. Of course it wasn’t. But you have to start somewhere, and risky as it may be given the state of Amar’e’s knees, the team needed a franchise player and someone exciting enough to put an ass every 18 inches, and well he’s that at the very least.
Controversial though that signing may have been in New York, any discerning fan will tell you Walsh made some shrewd moves here, and very quitely assembled a team that’s not only deep with talent but much more suited to play D-Antoni’s 7 seconds or less style of breakneck basketball.
For one, getting Raymond Felton to play point makes sense, as he is a player who excels in an up-tempo system and is a definite upgrade from Chris Duhon, who really shouldn’t have been a starter in the first place.
Next up, Walsh basically raped the Warriors in a sign-and-trade for the departing David Lee, netting Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike AND would-be prodigy Anthony Randolph in exchange for a guy who was leaving anyway. This trade will go down as anywhere from very good to franchise-altering, depending on how Randolph pans out. A player of wondrous gifts, (who I watched completely dominate the Summer League 2 years ago) Randolph is either a burgeoning head case or the victim of Don Nelson’s increasingly bizarre coaching methods, depending on whom you ask. Either way, Knicks fans should be excited to have picked up a guy with his potential for nothing.
Not done there, Donnie was able to grab up a couple of D’antoni-type players on the cheap, signing Shawne Williams and Roger Mason, Jr. to add depth and flexibility.
And in what might turn out to be the coup de grace, he nabbed Russian behemoth Timofey Mozgov ( much to the chagrin of his people) for 3 years, after which the under-the-radar big man went to Knicks camp and won the starting center job. Granted, he’s not going to be confused for a ballerina or anything, but he fills a desperate need for a team that has payed 32 million over the last 3 years to Eddy Curry to sit at home and eat fast food.
Now, with all that in mind, let’s take a step back and look at what we’ve got:
A likely starting line-up of Felton-Chandler-Gallinari-Stoudemire-Mozgov, with a deep and flexible bench, plenty of long-range shooting on the roster to discourage defensives from swarming Amar’e and enough defensive-minded players to be able to adjust to the different teams they’ll play during the course of the season.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m high on what they are doing here. Even better, the team is looking at enough cap space this summer to sign another marquee player and by all accounts are the preferred destination of free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony.
The thing is, good Basketball teams are built and a foundation of depth and versatility, and the Knicks are being set up that way, much like Walsh did for years with the Pacers team that made the 2000 Finals and the team that was set to dominate the Eastern Conference in the mid 2000’s before some goofball threw a drink in Ron Artest’s face. The Knicks landed a monster player in the low post, a solid cast of players in support, and a couple of wild cards in Randolph and Mozgov who could push the team even further up the Eastern pecking order if things pan out.
Of course, If Amar’e tears his knee up in November just forget I said any of this and just color them fucked.
IF THEY GET LUCKY:
Oh man, they could shock the shit out of everybody. Stoudemire dominates in the paint and creates enough space for Gallinari to bomb away from the outside, and DAntoni’s new team starts to look alot like his old one. The Knicks are able to put together enough in a trade to grab ‘Melo now instead of in the summer. Anthony Randolph emerges as an unguardable force off the bench.
IF THEY DONT: Stoudemire goes down. Really, that’s all it would take to derail the season, and pretty much the only feasible scenario that could ruin the team. I really do believe that the pieces are in place for this team to exceed expectations, both on the court and in the front office. Well, not counting this guy.
Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs! I guarantee it.
Conservatively, I’m thinking 40-45 wins and a first round exit. If they get ‘Melo, this goes up a notch or two. Better days are ahead in NYC.
KNICK BONUS: THE VIDEO THAT SPIKE LEE IS STILL SHAKING HIS HEAD OVER
2007 Draft. Gus Johnson is interviewing Spike about the blockbuster trade New York just pulled off. Spike says he likes dick (not that dick. this dick) Gus tells him (in popular street parlance, no less) to cut it out.
It’s no mystery why everyone loves Gus Johnson, folks.