Basketball In The Big Apple Is Back!!

Posted: December 13, 2010 in NBA
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Jesse Schneiderman

My earliest memory of the New York Knicks is Game 7 of the 1994-95 Eastern Conference Finals. I sat there, nine years old, in my blue Patrick Ewing jersey and matching shorts, as my hero drove to the hoop and missed the same finger roll he had made thousands of times before. The game was over. That was my indoctrination into this remarkably dedicated fan base.

For the next fifteen years, I watched as we trotted out lineups featuring Jerome James, Malik Rose, Mike Sweetney, Chris Wilcox, and Renaldo Balkman. I sat through press conferences introducing “the future of the Knicks;” first relying on a tandem of speedy guards named Marbury and Francis, then mortgaging the future (and multiple draft picks) on a fat, slow, center with a heart problem (both literally and figuratively), who couldn’t rebound. We watched in horror this year on July 7th, as our reason for sticking around for the last two years seemingly vanished, taking his heart-breaking talents to South Beach. Suffice it to say, we had been defeated. So much so that I celebrated after the Utah Jazz made their selection in this year’s NBA draft; rejoicing as the last remaining relic from the disastrous Stephon Marbury debacle was selected. I wasn’t alone.

When the Knickerbockers landed Amare Stoudemire and he proclaimed “the Knicks are back,” we immediately scoffed. We had heard this one before. The Knicks were back when ‘Zeke (Isaiah Thomas) unveiled Marbury and Lenny Wilkins; the three point guards and their million dollar smiles were supposed to “take over the East.” Unsurprisingly, they didn’t. Two years later, the World’s Most Famous Arena was disillusioned with failure and I was wearing my “Isiah Thomas ruined my favorite team and all I got was this stupid 6 year/$72 million contract” t-shirt to games (and getting sympathetic high-fives from my tortured brethren). Then the Knicks started this season, their season of redemption, at 3-8. Fans were clamoring for Coach Mike D’Antoni’s head on a platter, justifiably. “We’ve been told to wait two years for this?!” was the collective consciousness. After changing his vaunted offense around so that plays can develop on the wings, capitalizing on the outstanding three-point shooting this club boasts, D’Antoni’s squad won a game. Then a few more. Now we are here, with the Knicks sitting 16-9 as the darlings of the NBA. Will this continue? Should Donnie Walsh deal for Carmelo Anthony? If not, what’s next? These are the questions hanging over the head of every New York basketball fan nowadays. Let’s address them one at a time.

The Knicks probably won’t be able to keep this up, at least with the team as it stands right now. Landry “Number 65 in your playbooks, number 1 in your hearts” Fields is an actual contender for rookie of the year (or at least he would be without Blake Griffin “Mozgov-ing” the entire league), he has to regress a little bit as the season goes on. The guy we were most excited about acquiring for our beloved David Lee was Anthony Randolph, but he has been relegated to ball-boy duty and it looks like he’ll be traded, while the most productive guy from the deal (Roney Turiaf) has knee problems. In addition, Amare can’t score 30 every night. Something needs to be done to keep this up.

Which brings us here; Should the Knicks still trade for Carmelo given this torrid start? It’s too soon to tell. If they keep up this pace, then maybe not. If they regress a bit, as I’m predicting, then of course they should. Any time you can add a perennial All-Star like ‘Melo you need to do it, but with one caveat as they need to find a shooter. If the deal goes down as predicted (‘Melo to Knicks with Big Fat Eddy Curry, Danillo Gallinari, and either Wilson Chandler or Landry Fields going to Denver, plus a draft pick acquired for presumably dealing Anthony Randolph), then the ‘bockers will be without shooters. Luckily, the answer to that question is on the roster, albeit not the active one, in Kelenna Azubuike. When the sharpshooting third piece of the David Lee deal gets healthy, the Knicks will have a legitimate shooter to replace Gallinari. That way they can still spread the floor, play the high-low post with Anthony and Stoudemire, and leave room for potential all-star point guard Raymond Felton to keep his pick-and-roll hand strong.

The other option, of course, is to wait until free agency. Assuming there will be no lockout (which is a pretty big assumption), the Knicks will almost certainly land Carmelo in the open market. They could use Eddy Curry’s contract to try and acquire a pair of players from the Memphis Grizzlies, O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol. Mayo is unhappy and the Grizzlies are openly trying to trade him, and Gasol is a restricted free agent at the end of the year. The Knicks will just need to Denver to sign-and-trade ‘Melo if they don’t have the cap space. Who says no to the following deal?

o       New York acquires O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol.

o       Houston acquires Anthony Randolph, Hasheem Thabeet, and Memphis’s 2012 2nd round pick.

o       Memphis acquires Landry Fields, Patrick Patterson, Eddy Curry’s expiring deal, and the Rockets 2010 1st round pick

This would give the Knicks some more shooting and a solid perimeter defender in Mayo, and an intelligent big man to pair with Stoudamire in the post. Houston gets Randolph and, for the small price of Patrick Patterson, gets a former number 2 overall pick plus a second rounder. Memphis saves money and gets two young stars plus a potential lottery pick. It makes perfect sense.

The bottom line is this: the New York Knicks are relevant again. After defeating the Denver Nuggets yesterday, Knicks’ fans can finally hold their heads high. What the Knickerbockers don’t need right now is a panic move. Don’t sell the farm for a backup point guard or a big body, that’s what characterized the ‘Zeke era and got us into trouble in the first place. For Knicks’ fans right now only one thing matters, something that hasn’t been the case for the better part of a decade: we’re winning. We have that. The Garden is rocking again, the city is buzzing about the potential of the playoffs, and the team is gelling perfectly. While Donnie Walsh sits in his ivory tower trying to figure out his next move and D’Antoni’s boys continue to reel off 130-125 wins, at least we’re relevant. That’s more than we’re used to.

  1. von wafer says:

    “Who says no to the following deal?” That answer is fairly obvious. MEMPHIS!!! You propose that Memphis will gladly give up 2 of their best young talents and faces of their franchise (Gasol, who is emerging as one of the best young centers in the NBA and Mayo who before this year has been playing almost at an all star level), Hasheem Thabeet, a very recent 2nd overall draft pick, who is still young and has room to mature as an NBA player and a 2nd rounder for a 1st round pick, an expiring deal, Patterson (who was sent down to the D-league and can’t sniff the court on a 9-14 Rockets team who trots out the likes of Brad Miller, Jordan Hill, and Jared Jeffries) and, Landry Fields (while a fan favorite at MSG he is the very definition of an average player and far from “a young star” as you like to call him. Yes he would probably be third in NBA rookie of the year voting, but wayyy behind Blake and Wall and the rest of this years rookie class is no more appealing than David Hasselhoff eating a hamburger) There is no way Memphis would ever entertain the thought of this trade, especially after seeing how Pau turned out in L.A.
    This article was written by another overzealous Knick fan who is ready to declare the knicks contenders after they run over the bottom feeders of the NBA. The Knicks have 16 wins on the season yet 3 wins against teams that currently sport a .500 record or better, THREE! This trade proposed is laughable as are the knicks chances of advancing past the first round of the playoffs.

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