IF YOU COULD BEAT THE NEW YORK KNICKS’ STARTERS WITH FIVE GUYS OFF THE KNICKS’ BENCH (YOU COULD), DOES IT MEAN ANYTHING?

                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

 

What’s a Donnie Walsh to do?  He wants to make his team stronger, he was hoping for even a little trade value for Stephon Marbury and then his choice to bring the franchise out of the wilderness (Mike D’Antoni) humiliates Marbury by not playing him at all after (at least) giving him about 20 minutes a game in the exhibition season.

    

Maybe Walsh can suggest that the Knicks run an intrasquad scrimmage with the following lineups:  THE STARTERS: Chris Duhon and Jamal Crawford at the guards with Quentin Richardson, David Lee and Zach Randolph up front.  For the subs:  Stephon Marbury and Nate Robinson at the guards with Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries (or Danilo Gallinari or even Malik Rose, you pick the fifth guy).

    

WHO WINS THIS GAME? 

 

Walsh can invite scouts from other teams (think how hard Marbury and Curry will play).  I think the subs could win this game.  Don’t you?  Of course, this game will never happen (at least not publicly) but the point is clear:  the Knicks are still a not-so-good (and certainly no stars) team with some (slightly) talented guys.  Can Mike D’Antoni change all of this?

    

Well, we can all understand D’Antoni’s “message.”  Marbury is not in the future plans of the team.  Eddie Curry isn’t in shape.  Etc., etc., etc.  But exactly to whom is the message being given?  How many guys on this roster are going to be around when the Knicks turn the corner (fill in your own definition here of “turning the corner”), if they do turn the corner?

    

Is Chris Duhon the answer (this answer is with a small “a”)?  A nice player, if the New York announcers are telling us what a great “winner” he was at Duke, that’s a problem since he’s been in the NBA for FOUR seasons.  And relatively mediocre ones, at that.  He averaged about seven points and four assists per game for the Bulls, playing about 25 minutes per game.  For the Knicks, after an admittedly small sample of only three games, he’s averaging about seven points and four assists per game, playing about 35 minutes per game.  Frankly, that’s a problem

 

WHAT’S DONNIE WALSH TO DO?

 

Well, for starters, get on the same page with the coach.  D’Antoni has killed what little trade value Marbury might have had (it says here he can still play) if he were given, say, 20 minutes a game.  But is the organization cutting off its nose to spite its face?  It sure seems that way.  There’s got to be some interest in Marbury.  But what little there was may have been already killed by D’Antoni.  D’Antoni can curse at fans at the Garden (although that’s a tough way to go in NYC) and think they’re idiots or whatever he wants; but is Marbury worth less today (in trade value) than he was right before the season started?  Absolutely.

 

WHERE ARE THE KNICKS GOING?

 

Well, if you heard the hysterical “experts” in New York after the Knicks beat the woeful Heat in their opener, words like “turnaround” and “stunning victory” were used (seriously).  Of course, a nice Philly team blew them out in game two and a not-very-good Bucks team beat them in the Garden in game three.  So, while everybody knew it would “take some time” and that “things won’t get turned around overnight,” the reality is this team is far away from, let’s say, .500 (although the optimist would say they’re only one game away from .500 — and now, as of Thursday, even at .500 after beating Larry Brown’s latest terrible team).

    

This is going to take awhile.

 

CAN MIKE D’ANTONI DO THIS?

 

Well, there are a few problems.  D’Antoni had a real good run with Phoenix.  But he also had one of the ten best point guards ever in Steve Nash.  He had a stunning talent in Amare Stoudemire.  He also had guys like Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell and Boris Diaw (boy, could the Knicks use a couple of guys like these), who fit well into his running style of play.

    

Despite all of this ability and all of this success, D’Antoni couldn’t get the Suns to the Promised Land.  Unfortunately for him, the Suns were playing in the varsity league while the Knicks, during the same time frame, were playing in the junior varsity league (or was it the freshman league after Michael Jordan retired (again) in 1998?).

     

When it became clear the Suns were an excellent regular season team who weren’t going to get over the hump (maybe they just weren’t “built for the post-season”), the Suns went out and got Shaq.  To no avail.  

    

But a funny thing happened in the Eastern Conference in the last two years.  It got better.  Much better.  Although Rick Pitino once famously said that Bird, Parish and McHale weren’t going to walk through those doors (in Boston), Kevin Garnett (thanks to McHale) and Ray Allen did (from the Western Conference) – and the Celtics won the 2008 NBA Championship.

    

In addition, Elton Brand came over from the Western Conference to make Philly a contender.  And, now, here comes Allen Iverson back to the East to see if he can be the revitalizing Answer in Detroit. 

    

The point for Knick fans is that the East is much better than it’s been and D’Antoni has much less talent to work with in New York than he had in Phoenix.  The numbers just don’t quite add up.  If D’Antoni will break down (with Walsh’s urging) and give Marbury some playing time, maybe he can pick up a building block for the future.

    

Either way, at this stage, it looks like it’s going to be a long, cold winter (or two or three) in New York basketball.  We’ll see. 

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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