I don't think the improvement in coaching by hiring Mike D'Antoni is going to make that big of a difference this year. They went into training camp still having to deal with Stephon Marbury's bull. Eddy Curry isn't going to be able to keep up with the up-tempo pace. The Knicks have a lot issues they'll need to resolve before they can start winning. They'll have to overhaul the roster to play to Mike's style.
The best player on their training camp roster is probably Marbury. Look at his skills: When healthy he can score, and if he wants to -- if -- he can defend his position; I've seen him body up. He's quick, he can push it up the floor, he can handle. He doesn't distribute it, though that may have something to do with the weaknesses of his teammates. All of that being said, they probably should have gotten rid of Marbury awhile ago. Everybody in the locker room comes into camp thinking, When is he going to leave? They can't move on while he's still there.
Bringing in Chris Duhon was almost a must. They had to have a steady, experienced point guard, somebody they could depend on to not fly off the handle. If they weren't going to stick with Marbury, they couldn't start Nate Robinson at the point -- he's a scorer, a combo guard.
Jamal Crawford isn't a bad guy at all, but can you win with him? There's no toughness there. If he's your best scorer and the guy you're looking to lead the offense, you're in trouble. Plus, he can't guard anybody. He can do other things -- he can handle it, pass it, shoot it. But he's a volume shooter.
I don't see how they can believe in Curry. He can't change ends, he doesn't rebound and he doesn't block shots. If he is under the rim -- and I mean under it -- then you can't stop him. But so often they'll throw him the ball and he opens up his body and he gets stripped. And because he's so often turning his left shoulder with the ball -- it's his predictable move -- the defense just sits and waits for him to commit the charge. He just turns and bowls over somebody, and it happens over and over.
Zach Randolph is the type of player who provides production to a losing team. I've seen him win a game by himself. But look at the circumstances of how he was sent to New York: The Trail Blazers were willing to take back Steve Francis and cut him to get out from under Zach, because they had a lot of young, impressive draft picks and they needed to get rid of this guy who was dragging everybody down. He is like the frontcourt version of Stephon.
If you're asking me whether Curry and Randolph can play together, my answer is yes. But they won't win.
Quentin Richardson is a good teammate, and it seems like he means well. Can he stay healthy? That's something he has yet to prove.
Jared Jeffries could be a contributor on a good team. He can't shoot a lick. But here's somebody who is 6-10 and they were talking about starting him at center [before he broke his leg during the preseason]. But if they needed to, they could switch him onto defending the point guard and he would not get embarrassed.
David Lee's contract is going to be an issue while they try to downsize their payroll in time for 2010 when LeBron can be a free agent. They'll probably have to sacrifice Lee for the long-term growth of the organization. As much as I like him, he's not going to lead you to the NBA Finals. He's a pretty good bench player because he's active, but he can't play small forward and he's undersized at power forward. He's a hustle player, and you need guys like that to come off the bench and change tempo and make things happen. But he averaged close to 10 [points] and 10 [rebounds] for a team that won 23 games last year, so how important was he really? They probably can't afford to pay him what he's worth in a new contract while they're trying to clear space.
Wilson Chandler has got to become a better ball handler and hit shots consistently. He's not a knockdown shooter yet. When the ball is going up and down the floor, he does pretty well for himself.
There's no telling what they might get out of rookie Danilo Gallinariuntil his back problems clear up.
On the one hand, the new coaching staff is going to want to win games and establish a new style, but management is going to need the next two years to clear away the bad contracts and attitudes. The way it looks right now, this is a throwaway year unless they can get something out of the draft from it.
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