It will take a couple of years for coach Mike D'Antoni to get players who'll thrive in his up-tempo offense.
David E. Klutho/SI
Since entering the league in '00-01 (with the Bulls), Jamal Crawford has been on the winning side in just 30.5 percent of the games that he's played (162 of 532), the worst career percentage of any active player.
Record: 23-59 (14th in East) Points scored: 96.9 (21st in NBA) Points allowed: 103.5 (22nd)
They still won't be very good, but at least they'll be more watchable under Mike D'Antoni
When Knicks president Donnie Walsh assumed control of the organizationlast spring, sweeping changes were on the way. He let free agents Fred Jones andRandolph Morris walk. He traded Renaldo Balkman to Denver for two players whowere immediately cut. Then... that was it? "You can't force atrade," says Walsh. "Sometimes the right deals just aren't there."
Thus, the onus of improving the old team falls on the new coach. "I've boughtMike D'Antoni," says Walsh. "I'm convinced about him." Can the run-and-gunsystem that transformed the Suns breathe life into New York? "We're going to bedoing the same things here we did in Phoenix," says D'Antoni. "We're going topush the ball and try to get easy baskets."
D'Antoni may want to run, but he's short on guys who can successfully gun.Twelve of the 15 players from a 23-win team that averaged 96.9 points arestill on the roster. And the prominent new faces -- free-agent guard Chris Duhonand 6-foot-10 rookie Danilo Gallinari, the No. 6 pick, out of Italy -- don'texactly have fans setting aside money for playoff tickets.
Ironically, the Knick who may be the best fit in the new system is the onewhom Walsh would most like to unload. Point guard Stephon Marbury played 34games for D'Antoni's Suns in 2003-04, averaging 20.8 points and 8.3 assists, buthis me-first attitude and $21.9 million salary are a hindrance to afranchise trying to rebuild. "I'm not tied to anybody," says D'Antoni. "I'm hereto get these guys playing better."
With this stale roster of ill-fitting parts, better is a long wayoff. -- Chris Mannix
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