Friday, January 27, 2012

State of the Knicks

This year's NBA Season brought a ton of hope to New York with their acquisition of highly talented center Tyson Chandler to help bring an interior defensive presence the Knicks have longed to have. What fans overlooked in this signing was that they had to amnesty their starting point guard Chauncey Billups, which means he is released from the team, but his salary is completely removed from the Knicks salary cap. This helped free up enough money for the Knicks to venture out and sign a big-player like Tyson. Last year Billups guided the Knicks to the playoffs where they were swept by the Boston Celtics. The Knicks competed for the first two games of the series until Billups and Amare Stoudemire suffered injuries that forced them to sit out or play at way less than 100%. Billups rehabbed over the off season and was determined to get the Knicks back to the playoffs, but the Knicks front office had other ideas. New York went out and drafted Georgia Tech Guard Iman Shumpert with the 17th overall pick in the NBA Draft. Many fans were stunned by this pick as the majority of Knick fans had thought they would draft power forward Kenneth Faried from Morehead State. Faried was pictured as that front line man that could contribute mightily to the defensive end, but the Knicks had other ideas and later signed Chandler.

Entering the season the Knick's starting lineup shaped up to be Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. They faced the Celtics to open the year and were carried by the clutch made baskets by Carmelo as he ended up as the leading scorer with 37 points. Most were pleased with the victory although some saw this win as a sign of bad things to come. Towards the end of the game Mike Dantoni's high tempo offense was slowed by the Celtic's signature defense and forced isolation plays almost every play down the stretch, thus allowing the Celtics to creep back into the game. As the season progressed the disadvantage of no true point guard on the roster hurt the offense immensly. Neither Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, or Mike Bibby were capable of running the offense to its true potential which has resulted in their 7-12 record and 3rd place in the Atlantic Division behind the surprising 76ers and veteran Celtics.

With many calling for the front office to trade for Phoenix Suns assist machine Steve Nash, there is hope on the rise in the form of Baron Davis. Davis signed over the offseason after being amnestied by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but a herniate disk sidelined him for 10 weeks and he has yet to contribute at all to the team. The high tempo Dantoni offense runs to its strengths only when there is a point guard suitable to run those types of plays. Baron Davis ran that type of offense on the Golden State Warriors, under head coach Don Nelson, perfectly which helped them upset the number one seed Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs. Davis averaged 25.3 points, 6.5 assists, 2.9 steals, and 4.5 rebounds per game in those playoffs. If Davis could produce half of those stats for the Knicks they would be more than grateful and there record would rebound from where it currently is now. He has begun to participate in full practices this week and will most likely make his debut in a Knickerbocker uniform sometime next week.

Stephan A. Smith, an ESPN analyst for the NBA, reported this past week that the Orlando Magic had inquired about possibly trading highly touted center Dwight Howard for the Knicks starting big men Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. The deal would also send small forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson to New York in order to even out the salaries being exchanged. If the Baron Davis experiment fails then the Knicks talks with Orlando will heat up intensely. Tyson Chandler cannot be traded until March 1st due to free agent signing rules and Dwight must be traded before the March 15th trading deadline so those two weeks should be very interesting. Adding Dwight Howard will also increase the Knicks chances of signing current New Jersey Net and future free agent Deron Williams to handle the point guard position next year as Deron has stated that Howard's signing will affect his decision on where to go next season. The next month will be must-watch as the state of the Knicks depends on it. Stay tuned until next time...

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