October 07, 2009
Once again back is the incredible ... Ball Don't Lie's NBA previews, outlining offseason moves, projecting win totals, spinning tracks and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Today, the New York Knicks.
2008-09 Record: 32-50, fifth place in Atlantic Division
Head Coach/Facial Hair: Mike D'Antoni/Pringles' mustache
Key Additions: Darko Milicic(notes), Jordan Hill(notes), Toney Douglas(notes)
Key Losses: Chris Wilcox(notes), Quentin Richardson(notes)
Asking Knicks fans to be patient? It's hard to do.
The Knicks have gone 36 years without a championship, they're nine years removed from their last appearance in the second round, and the team is about as long as shots get at putting an end to this length of loserdom.
On top of that, Knicks fans have been faced with a series of executives, ownership groups and coaches that were, shall we say, lacking. Toss in the sheer size of the Knick fan base and a tri-state temper following that doesn't really take to the word "rebuilding" all that well, and you have a tough group to sell the following ideal to — the Knicks will stink, again, in 2009-10.
They'll probably be worse than last year.
Then you have to tell them this:
S'OK, man. S'OK.
Because the team is properly rebuilding. It's trying it's damndest to get under the cap, acquire solid assets, build a real team. To build from the bottom up. But it's hard. Isiah Thomas salted the fields before he left, leaving the team with a ridiculous array of barely tradeable contracts, earned by players who flat out didn't deserve 1/10th or even 1/100th of what they made.
He traded draft picks. He traded cap flexibility. He wasted years of your life. Utah has your first round pick next year. Unprotected.
And this last offseason? Lots of bluster, and not a lot of action. Jason Kidd(notes) and Grant Hill(notes) came through town, no deals. David Lee(notes) and Nate Robinson(notes) wanted to stay around for a while, there was months of haggling and, in the end, they got one-year deals.
And that's ... OK.
It is. Because you didn't want Kidd or Hill. You might not even want D-Lee, who's terrific, around next year. Not even Nate, who really got it together last season. You want flexibility. You don't want another sustained commitment to mediocrity. At best. That's not me calling Lee or even Nate "mediocre;" Lee might be on his way to an All-Star appearance this season. You just have to prefer to keep your options open at this point.
And right now, with the East improving and not much coming New York's way save for a bit of internal development, Darko Milicic (great trade, seriously) and Jordan Hill, I can't say with any confidence that New York can even sustain last year's run toward 32 wins.
They can sustain the fun, though. Last year's team was a blast to watch. Cold comfort, but it was. And you can sustain the attitude, the attitude that tells you to be humble, that a team like the Knicks is no different than any of the other 30 teams once you factor in revenue sharing, salary caps and luxury taxes. And you can sustain the idea that, even if you don't give a rip about shelling out money hand over fist, you better do it to the right players, hired by the right executives, coached by the right coach.
Donnie Walsh is the right executive for this team. Mike D'Antoni's the right coach. And soon enough, they'll have the right players. Or, at least, they'll have a chance at them. And it's just not worth commenting on any of these players because they won't be Knicks in 12 months time. Danilo Gallinari(notes) will be, and he looks like a stud. Jordan Hill looks solid, for a thin draft at least. Others might come back, but if Knicks fans have any say, they'll be role players. Even the ones who are brilliant, like Lee. Or explosive, like Robinson.
But whatever happens, another year of taking blows will lead you toward respectability. And though New York's record won't be respectable this season, you can respect where they're going. Even if they step back in 2009-10.
Can the Knicks build a competitive, attractive team, maintain their financial flexibility and then make a splash in the summer of 2010?
Much like their metropolitan New York neighbors, it is and always will be about 2010 until Donnie Walsh demonstrates otherwise. But forces beyond his control may limit his options, so it behooves all concerned to make the Knicks an attractive target. That only happens with improved play in 2009-10, which, given their situation, is no sure thing.
— Peter May, Yahoo! Sports 2009-10 NBA Preview magazine
• Posting and Toasting: "After being controversially drafted sixth last season, Danilo Gallinari promptly injured his back and became something of a punchline. Well, (knock on wood) Gallo's back is healthy, and he looks ready to warrant his high selection. The kid is lights-out from downtown, with far more handles than a man his size should have and a bit of an edge as well. Danilo hustles, takes the big shots and won't back down on defense. He impregnates nearby women with just a flick of his wrist. He flosses twice daily. He heals with his hands and turns water into Chianti. Who is Danilo Gallinari? He's the next big name in New York basketball. Thanks for asking." [more]
• Bandwagon Knick: "As odd as it sounds, efficient shooting within the context of a well-orchestrated D'Antoni offense is a weakness (which is why the team wanted to draft Stephen Curry(notes)). There are several gunners capable of going off on a given evening, but very few efficient scorers outside of Gallinari, Al Harrington(notes) and Robinson, and only Gallinari seems well-matched to the ball-movement ethos of D'Antoni's system. Last year's team also had a leadership deficit, especially after Duhon started to falter in the second half of the year, and had a hard time finishing in close games. Some feel the issue will only get worse with so many expiring-deal players focused on getting their next deal." [more]
• The Baseline: "Well, here it is. Like John Waters trying to get that Manson chick out of prison, the Knicks are on the verge of their appointment with 2010 destiny, but it feels like too little, too late. Or rather, as with all things Knickerbocker, there's a stench of entitlement about it that's making us wonder 'no, other than being the Knicks, how will this all come true?' Plus, with those pesky Nets about to move up on their turf and outgun them in the raw figures department, well, we could be seeing the death of dinosaurs once and for all. Or do they rally around their own demise, get an insurgency-like chip on their shoulder and slide into second just accomplished enough to still make something happen next summer? One thing's for sure: As currently constructed, this team's on a collision course with a hazy future and the alternative is a drab waiting room with some good magazines you've already seen." [more]
London Beat, "I've Been Thinking About You"
Much like their neighbors to the south, the Knicks are playing this season with something else on their mind. That something else? A 6-foot-8 giant of a man who just so happens to be the best basketball player in basketball. No, not Warren Carter(notes). He's 6-foot-9 and he doesn't even have an NBA.com page. We all know the Knicks are gunning for a Mr. LeBron James(notes), so what can they do? Shi-pow-pow!
— Trey Kerby, The Blowtorch
The Knicks are a fantasy owners' best friend, both on offense and defense. The team has produced roto stud and cult hero David Lee and has made more-than-serviceable options of Al Harrington, Wilson Chandler(notes), Nate Robinson and even Chris Duhon(notes). And the tenet "Thou shalt start all of your rostered players any time they face the Knicks" will remain unchanged during the 2009-10 season and beyond.
The preseason intrigue centers around Danilo Gallinari, in particular because of the effusive praise he has elicited from Mike D'Antoni. The kid can shoot — he made 44 percent of his threes and missed just one of 27 free throws as a rookie — and we know what the D'Antoni system can do for anyone that logs the minutes. Is Gallinari ready to earn the plaudits? It remains to be seen, but it's worth the speculative last-round pick to make sure he's on your roster in the event that he is.
Sign up now for Fantasy Basketball '09.
GDeLaurentiis: "Had the most AMAZING meal in the Peruvian Andies! @EddyCurry, you would have loved it!"
7:46 AM Sep 30th from web