I'm one of the old school Knicks fans that remembers before Mike D'antoni, before Don Nelson, before Jeff Vangundy and Pat Riley. I remember guys like Stu Jackson and Rick Pitino. I've seen winners and the decade long losers. What I see now is one of the worst teams from top to bottom in the NBA. Don't get me wrong, I like the players, and I will always love this team.
To expect this team to compete for a championship is like expecting Whitney Houston to get off the crack pipe. From top to bottom, the coaching staff, players, GM, and owner are all on different pages, and as long as it stays that way this team won't mesh. They are the NBA equivalent to the Oakland Raiders, with James Dolan playing the role of Al Davis (RIP Al). I've heard several rumors about the movement of players, as well as the lack of contract extension for the head coach. Without further delay, this is what needs to happen for this team to get back to the glory days of yesteryear.Mike D'antoni's replacement is already in place in Mike Woodson. If you remember in Phoenix, the Suns let Mike walk away because he couldn't field a winner despite them constantly putting pieces in place to improve his defense. They started with Grant Hill, and Shawn Merion, and brought in Shaquille O'neal to increase the defensive presence on the Suns. Then they brought in a defensive assistant coach to help improve the defense. Sound familiar?
This Knicks team has brought in Carmelo and Amare, brought in defensive players like Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries to help and brought a defensive assistant coach Mike Woodson. The Phoenix Suns transition is complete when you add in the aging point guard in the form of Baron Davis. Here's where that story ends and a new one begins.
The Suns brought in Alvin Gentry to be a defensive minded head coach, but he didn't pan out. The Knicks have brought in Mike Woodson who is a defensive head coach, and he is the real deal. Woodson was drafted by the Knicks in the 1st round of the 1980 draft.
He took the Hawks from a perennial doormat following the departure of Dominique Wilkins and made them a viable team again always in the middle of the playoff hunt. He's young enough to be relevant. He has the actual credentials of playing in NY and being drafted by NY. He was an NBA journeyman, so he knows how to be a hard worker. When you think about the Hawks there is no Stoudamire, there is no Carmello. There is Joe Johnson and a bunch of pretty good, but not star players. Mike might get fired this year, or he may serve out the rest of this year and not return as the head coach next year. Make no mistake though. Mike Woodson is not going anywhere. He's getting to know players this year. He is what is known as hedging your bet, and he is the one that will pay off when D'antoni is finally fired or not re-signed. As soon as he takes over you will see a team that plays defense better, plays more team ball, and actually runs plays so that players get the ball in spots where they can do something with it.
The other thing I wanted to address is the trade rumors that always come up around the trade deadline. I've been hearing more and more of them, and I'm starting to believe that something will happen within the next 30 days. The 2 main rumors are that Amare Stoudamire will/might be traded. The first scenario was to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard and Hedo Terkaglu. More recently though, it's been all over Philadelphia radio stations that the 76ers are making a big push to trade for him.
At first I didn't believe it, but when you look at the salary cap and the fact that the Knicks need depth, youth and quality, and Stoudamire and Anthony can't play together, I think its a better than 50/50 shot that Stoudamire is traded. He is in the 2nd year of a 5 year deal in which he's averaging over 20 million a year. He's 29 and has a bad back and knees that are holding up OK. I can already tell from watching him that he doesn't have the lift or explosiveness in getting to the rim and might best be suited as an undersized center.
I like him, but I hope they take the trade and run. There are only 3 guys making money on the team. Anthony (20 mil), Stoudamire (20 mil), and Tyson Chandler (15 mil). The next player salary-wise after them is making 1.6 mil and under.
If the Knicks can trade him to division rival 76ers, they can get the most out of the deal. Orlando is rumored to want to package Terkaglu and he is owed 15 million over the next 3 years. The 76ers have a lot of young talent though, and players that have either managable or expiring contracts. They can offer Evan Turner, Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday, a draft pick, or the expiring deal of Elton Brand (next season).
A new head coach and a salary dump of a 100 million dollar contract that is already starting to slip is in the best interest of the long term future of this team. As a stop gap measure there are power forwards available like Kenyon Martin who could sign for a vet minimum. The Knicks could then trade Stoudamire for either Elton Brand or Andre Igudala as well as either Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner or a young player and a draft pick.