If the Knicks were a movie, we’d be at the end of Act II.
The end of Act I is when the character enters a new world. For me as a Knick fan, that would be 2006. The Knicks had hired Larry Brown, their first big-time coach since Pat Riley, and I figured the usual LB-routine would go into effect, i.e. team struggles mightily during his 1st year, team gets rid of players who don’t play "the right way," team shows improvement year after year. As a bonus, it seemed the Knicks would struggle so much in Year 1 (which they did…oh God, did they ever) that Isiah would be fired. Isiah out, Larry Brown in. A win-win.
When Dolan fired LB and PROMOTED Isiah, I realized this owner was not your run-of-the-mill ding-a-ling. I’d seen the Knicks suffer from poor management before (Al Bianchi, anybody?). This was a whole new level of stinking, awful offal.
The end of Act II is when things seem to be at their lowest point, when all hope seems lost.
The biggest decision the Knicks have made in years was amnestying Chauncey Billups (mere months after picking up his option) in order to sign Tyson Chandler and use up the last of their cap space. A choice was made that day. A sacrifice was agreed to: we’ll take our "Big 3″ frontcourt and in exchange have no guards. This had led to some desperate backcourt reaches…Baron Davis…Mike Bibby…"Hey! Let’s draft Iman Shumpert and turn him into a PG!"…etc. This is one reason why the Jeremy Lin pettiness was so crushing. At the time the Knicks had a young PG with an unknown ceiling, who the owner pettily and vindictively let go in order to bring in Raymond Felton, whose career numbers are an homage to mediocrity. Seriously: never has their been more doublespeak spread by the Knicks then when they began leaking talk about Lin being a by-product of D’Antoni’s system, when Felton to that point had played 500 games in his career, and the only times he’d put up good numbers was…you guessed it.
So, as I expected and feared: Lin has improved his shooting. He’s always been able to penetrate. Felton, meanwhile, has one NBA skill: running the pick-and-roll. If Amar’e was playing 30 minutes a night, 80 games a year, that might mean something. You reduce Amar’e's playing time and you play in a league where every Knick opponent has watched tape of last year’s playoffs and figured out "Hmm…if we don’t let Tyson Chandler roll to the rim and dunk, the Knicks are stuck playing 5 on 4," and now what is Felton? A PG who can’t shoot, penetrate, or defend. Good luck with that.
But hark! An angel from the north! Toronto offers the Knicks salvation served up on a silver platter: a point guard who
A) Isn’t old (27).
B) Shoots a good % on 3s.
C) Can defend.
D) Only has a contract to the end of the year, so if you like him you have his Bird Rights (critical for a team over the cap), and if not, cut him loose and don’t look back.
E) Will only cost you the inferior player he’s replacing (Felton), another player who can’t even crack your rotation half the time (Metta), and a 1st round pick FIVE YEARS FROM NOW.
Nobody likes the fact that the Knicks function as if they’re legally obligated to throw a 1st-round pick into every deal they make. But this trade, this year, is NOT the time for them to suddenly find religion. When the 2018 draft rolls around, it’s very likely not a single player on the current roster will be here. This is a win-now team playing in a conference where, despite being 6-15, they could absolutely win the division and get as high as the #3 seed.
Since Melo came to the Knicks, they’ve been screwed by injuries every year in the playoffs. In 2011 Billups and STAT were out by Game 2 vs. Boston. In 2012 Lin was out and Shumpert was lost in Game 1, and then STAT punched a plate of glass after Game 2. Last year Chandler was clearly not himself dealing with his neck injury, and later we learned while JR Smith’s elbow was just fine, his knee needed surgery.
If the Knicks finish 41-41, get a #3 seed, and are healthy, that’s all that matters. That’s all this year has been about: put yourselves in a position to match-up with Miami or Indiana come May/June. It’s still, despite everything, within their reach.
And Lucky Sperm Jimmy won’t make the deal. A deal his basketball people agreed to. Because, apparently, he doesn’t like that the press got word of it ahead of time…and because he feels he got fleeced by Toronto’s GM back when he was with Denver, and is afraid it’ll happen again.
Next time Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni, who know slightly more about the NBA than you do, tell you not to make a deal, that you can wait and get a better deal later…maybe you should listen to them. Just like you should listen to your basketball people now.
Even when the Knicks have a chance to make the right move, they dno’t. Because, as we’ve seen time and time again, the owner lives in a different reality than the rest of us. It isn’t about wins and losses. It isn’t about the right move at the right time. It’s about him. It’s about his sacred cow bullshit media policy and about fearing looking like a buffoon when everyone already knows he’s an idiot.
If this is a movie, wake me up when it’s over.