Chauncey Billups might not be wrong when he tells Chris Tomasson of Hoopshype (via PBT) that he would prefer his New York Knicks focus on accruing depth whenever the next few offseasons take place, rather than attempting to find that mythical third star in order to put New York over the top.
"It's not about that,'' Billups said of collecting big names on a team. "We got two of the biggest names in basketball already (in Anthony and Stoudemire). It's not about that. It's about getting somebody that can play with the talent that you have… You look at the Mavericks, and they just share the basketball every time down the floor… Dirk is one of the best the game has ever seen. But he couldn't do it by himself… So it's all about the team…."
He's right because New York was first-round fodder, swept out in four games, this season even with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony leading the charge. He's right because putting your eggs in a third star's basket is always risky business when they can be paid more by their current team -- and for longer terms. He's right because the Knicks are already bereft of the sort of sweetening assets it would take to even sign-and-trade for a Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, after Isiah Thomas swooped in and handed half of Manhattan to Denver for Anthony last February.
He's right because, typically, this is how you build a team. The third part of the Big Three is usually sound role players and a tough bench.
But with New York, I get the feeling that the orthodox route might not work. Not because of the usual bluster regarding how the Knicks need to stay in the headlines, or because Knicks fans wouldn't be satisfied without a big name suiting up next to their terrific duo. No, despite some of the more vocal types on the message boards, Knick fans by and large know what's up.
It's because that terrific duo, I'm sorry, just isn't on par with other championship-worthy duos around the league. Stoudemire and Anthony are near the top of their positions offensively, but they're absolute sieves defensively, and in a way that I suspect even the strongest of supporting casts wouldn't be able to help. You can point to Dirk Nowitzki's and Jason Terry's championship turn in Dallas as evidence that strong role players can help overcome weak defenders at the star positions, but in reality defensive stud Tyson Chandler was Dallas' second star, not Terry.
And lacking defenders like Stoudemire and Anthony might actually need someone as profound as a Howard or even a Chandler to put that team in the second round and beyond. Depth is key -- it always will be -- but not when the foundation is this deficient in one area.
So, wait on that defensive star, New York. Nene is probably out of the picture, but so might be the entire 2011-12 season. And for once, we shouldn't be shaking our heads at the Knicks going for that boffo name to fill up the back page.
Mainly because they already made their bed in that regard, trading for Anthony to pair up with Amar'e. One star tends to lead to another.