Ball Don't Lie - NBA

As the NBA preseason marches on, Ball Don't Lie looks at all 30 teams, outlining off-season transactions, projecting win totals, spinning tracks, and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Today, the New York Knicks.

Last Season: 23-59; good for 2nd in the East if you just count New York and Florida teams

Key Players Added: Blue satin Chris Duhon (free agent), Italian stallion Danilo Gallinari (draft), Anthony Roberson (no idea)

Key Players Lost: Renaldo Balkman and cash considerations (shipped to Denver), Fred Jones (built a time machine, currently living in February 2004), Randolph Morris (signed a two year, $1.7 million deal with the Hawks)

KD's Endless Grey Ribbon: You know, the more I think about it, the ascension of Chris Duhon to the top of the point guard heap in New York seems as much of a bum move as trading for Zach Randolph to play alongside Eddy Curry, or any of the other chemistry missteps of the Isiah Thomas era.

I like Chris, I truly do, but he's not the most able guy in transition, you don't have to guard him anywhere on the court, he's not a creative passer, he's not even that good a passer (he'll get assists, eventually, but in the Brevin Knight-style, while doing well in Assist Ratio); and though the expectations are low, it doesn't make his nomination to be a heartbeat away — er, the leader of one of the league's most storied franchises — any smarter.

But because you think "plucky" and "dogged" when it comes to Duhon, instead of "selfish" or "overweight" as it was during Isiah's era, the move seems like a step in the right direction. Even if Duhon is in over his head. I know he's only around for two years, and that he isn't being asked to do much, but his place on this team is pretty symbolic. He's the temporary housing you put outside the radioactive zone for the displaced residents, following the nuclear fallout.

And it won't do much by way of winning, either. Like it or not, this is still Isiah's team. There's no trading most of these guys, and for some reason (if the rumors about possibly cap-clearing trades with the Clippers or Grizzlies were true), new Knicks boss Donnie Walsh was as daft as Zeke when it came to passing on dumping Zach Randolph for peanuts and cap space in 2010. What were you waiting for, Donnie? For his trade value to go a little above next-to-nil?

Listen, we're quite chuffed that Thomas is out and Walsh is in. Walsh has made some brilliant moves in the past, and Knicks fans deserve a series of 70-win seasons for what they went through, even if it took a lot of them until 2007-08 to see Thomas for what he really was. And we know that there's very little Walsh can do with no draft picks to trade, no cap space to work with, and no real sweetheart deals on the table. But that doesn't mean we're fully on board with the idea of Duhon as a 35-minute guy, or that Zach Randolph can eventually morph into something useful on or off (as trade fodder) the court.

And though it's hard not to appreciate coach Mike D'Antoni's take on the game, he's had bad teams before, and he's lost with them. He lost a lot of games with a miserable Nuggets outfit nearly a decade ago, and he lost a lot of games in three-quarters of a season with the Suns the year before Nash came around. The idea that his presence alone could throw a half-dozen more wins in New York's favor just doesn't work out. This is the NBA, and players matter. And few coaches — maybe Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich — could work that six game magic. And we're even dubious about that.

So Knicks fans, stay patient. You're known for that calm, exacting tone. Use it.

And Donnie Walsh? I don't care what they're sending back. If it means his contract is off the books in the summer of 2010, trade Zach Randolph.

Expected record: 23-59


The Stephon Marbury Comedy Hour:

"OK, OK, so Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph are running away— well, "walking briskly" away from Coach D'Antoni, when they spot three large baskets in the locker room to hide in. The three baskets are labeled "dogs," "cats" and "potatoes." Why? No idea, no idea. It's crazy in New York, man. Crazy.

So, yeah, Jamal jumps in the dog basket and closes the lid. Hilarious, right? Eddy somehow squeezes his way into the cat basket and closes the lid. Zach scrambles into the potato basket. They're hiding, OK? From Coach.

So, Coach D'Antoni enters the room — he's real mad, right? — and he walks right over to the first basket and kicks it. Jamal yells 'woof!' Coach, thinking its a basket full of dogs, moves onto the next basket. Coach kicks that basket and Eddy yells 'meow.' You know, like a cat. Ha-ha. Great stuff. Coach then soonters up to the last basket, hoofs it, and Zach — oh, man, this is great, this is great — Coach kicks the last basket and Zach yells out 'potatoes!'

POTATOES! Ha! A potato is not an animal!"

Real Talk, Blog Talk:

Straight Bangin': "It would be nice to list more things--shooting, rebounding, defense, and so forth. But this roster is primarily the same one that lurched to 23 wins last season due to incompetent offense, lazy defense, and inconsistent effort. A new coach and his new system may offer improvement, but they also will require time. Time to learn, time to adjust, and time to define new roles. I was skeptical about the impact of the D'Antoni hiring because the Knicks will not be a championship-caliber team until there is wholesale roster revision, and even then, D'Antoni may not be the right guy for the job. But to run, you first must walk. The Brickers may not have a Steve Nash and an Amare Stoudemire and a Shawn Marion, but they do, finally, have a culture of professionalism. That helps."

Posting and Toasting: "Much fuss was made about the Knicks picking Danilo Gallinari with the 6th pick in this year's draft. Some weren't sure he could hang with NBA forwards, while others were foretelling All-Star berths for Il Gallo. The jury may still be out come next summer. The big rooster has a nagging back injury that kept him out of most of the Summer League and looks as if it will keep him shackled to an exercise bike for the rest of the training camp. If he misses all of preseason, Danilo just might not crack the rotation for the early part of the year. We may even be looking at a D-League candidate. It appears we're taking ourselves too seriously this year to let the young and the raw develop on the Garden floor. So, if Gallinari can't stay healthy, he'll be hard-pressed to make an impression in his rookie campaign."

SLAM Online: "Knick fans can't expect too much. Last season, the Z-Bo trade generated a short-lived "they're definitely making the playoffs" kind of excitement that was sure to soil the season before it began — and did. With all that happened, 35 wins this season would be asking for a lot. However, given some roster changes, it shouldn’t be totally out of reach."

Associated Wax: Grant Green, Born to Be Blue

Michael Bay's Twitter Season Projection:

michael_bay: OK, I'm thinking of a number between 28 and 34— 31. 31 was the number. I can't keep a secret. I'm too honest. My fans love that about me.
9:04 AM October 09, 2008 from web

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