Could Isiah Thomas be making sense?
Could the New York Post be really fishing for startling headlines?
Could we finally be finding out what "mutually exclusive" means?
The Post published a story under the 'Isiah Thomas, former Knicks President, not thrilled with the Tyson Chandler acquisition' banner on Friday, and the title is technically true. But if you read Thomas' quote, as he talked to "The Sid Rosenberg Show" on Thursday, you can see that Zeke isn't exactly ripping on the Knicks for grabbing the defensive-minded big man.
"The guard play right now in the NBA is off the charts,'' Thomas said. "Losing Chauncey, I thought he brought a veteran leadership to the team. His savviness and guard play has always been severely undervalued. Detroit found that out when they let Chauncey go. I think there was a certain amount of leadership to what he brought to [the Knicks] last year.''
"If you don't have great guards, it's hard to put together a game plan,'' Thomas said. "You're only as good a coach as your guards."
The Knicks, if you'll recall, had to waive Billups with the amnesty clause in order to clear up cap space to sign Chandler. And while Chandler brings a needed defensive presence, the Knicks have looked terrible in the early stages of the season, mostly because this offensive-first team hasn't really clicked on that end. Expected to be one of the better scoring teams in the NBA in spite of an iffy defensive rotation, the Knicks are a middling 16th in points per possessions. And 25th in defensive efficiency, despite Chandler's best intentions.
Chandler really is getting after it, he's made nearly three-quarters of his shots and is tossing back over two opponent attempts a game (usually not his forte) despite playing just 33 minutes a night. But, as the cliché goes, he can't guard five opponents. And the Knick playmakers, apparently, aren't comfortable in passing to anyone. The team hasn't settled on a style, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire haven't been successful in resurrecting their triple-threat attack from the mid-post, and the long-awaited return of Baron Davis doesn't seem like a needed tonic.
Billups, more than likely, wouldn't appear to be a needed tonic either. His distributing skills have fallen off in recent years, even though he remains as brilliant as ever at scoring in efficient ways. And while the Knicks could have taken a chance on keeping Ronny Turiaf as their center and hoping to clear enough space to go after Chris Paul in this summer's free-agent market, the rumors floating around in last month's offseason (with Paul likely headed to one of two teams in Los Angeles) made that proposition a long shot at best.
So who's wrong here? Well, because we're a blog and it's 2012? Everyone.
The Post, for its silly headline. Thomas, for thinking that Billups would cure all ills, and for dancing on New York's grave after a 2-4 start. The Knicks, for not settling on a consistent offense even without a stern hand guiding the show from the backcourt. And me, for staying up way too late attempting to write about that terrible Hawks/Heat game from Thursday, and taking too long to get to this post from Marc Berman of the Post.
With that mess in place, the New York Knicks feature two of the more effortless scorers in the NBA in their front court, a weave-able collection of rotation-worthy players surrounding them, a defensive-minded center who knows that closing out and chasing off are important elements on par with massive rebound and block totals, and an apparently motivated former All-Star point guard nursing wounds and taking names from the bench. They're six games into a 66-game season, with two wins in place.
It's early, everyone. Even for tabloids.