The New York Knicks have a problem. A 25-point win at Milwaukee only briefly masked an issue which buried them early in Thursday's loss to the Hawks. In short, their starting guards suck. Sasha Vujacic, their emergency starter with Arron Afflalo on the shelf, sucks. Jose Calderon, their starting point guard regardless of injuries, somehow sucks more.
This glaring weakness seemingly could be addressed by starting one of New York's two promising young guards, Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant. Is Derek Fisher worried about Grant's lack of NBA experience? Fine, then start Galloway, who started 41 games last season ... for the Knicks!
On the other hand, probably nah...
Derek Fisher says "nothing is set in stone" regarding lineups but it sounds as if he doesn't want to make major changes after one loss.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 30, 2015
Of Vujacic, Fisher said, "His comfort level with who we are & what we're doing....He can shoot the ball, he can guard multiple players & he’s annoying to other teams. So why not put him out there?" And as for Calderon ... uh, he makes quality ham?
Despite his "nothing is set in stone" preface, the coach seems set against any kind of swap involving Calderon, Vujacic, Grant and Galloway, so we need to get creative with our roster moves. These aren't "good" ideas, and they probably won't "help" the Knicks, per se -- we've already established the simple, obvious fixes that won't happen. Instead, let's focus on needlessly complicated rotation moves that abide by Fisher's rules and therefor probably won't solve the real problem. Yippee!!!
Swap out Robin Lopez for Kyle O'Quinn
Let me get one thing clear right off the bat: I have no issues with Lopez. This isn't a criticism of how he has played this season. He hasn't been great, but he hasn't really been given a chance to be great. No, I do this because I care about poor Robin. This is a mission of mercy.
Think of playing center behind Calderon and Vujacic as cleaning up radioactive waste -- it has to be done, but it cannot be the work of one man. You need to work in shifts, to limit your exposure. O'Quinn and Lopez should rotate the starting center position -- that way, Lopez gets a chance to recharge his batteries while playing with the fun lineup. We all know how much he enjoys fun:
Also, there is a chance O'Quinn gets so angry he turns into the Incredible Hulk:
Swap out Vujacic for Cleanthony Early
When asked about potentially using one or both of those young guards in the starting lineup in Afflalo's absence during the preseason, Fisher replied that he'd prefer to keep the two together (and coming off the bench) since that's what they'd be doing once Afflalo got healthy enough to play.
Fine, I get it ... replacement starting guards can only come from outside the regular rotation. That leaves the only non-injured player to miss out on regular minutes during the first two games: Cleanthony Early.
By Fisher rules, this move might actually make sense. Early handled guard duties in the preseason, and made a fairly strong case for regular playing time. But we cannot forget the first two rules of Fisher Club: You do not talk about why Lance Thomas is getting so many minutes.
Fine. Give Early some of Vujacic's minutes.
Start 'em all!
If you can't replace 'em, join 'em. Fisher can always compromise by rolling out a Grant/Galloway/Vujacic/Calderon/Carmelo Anthony starting five. Think this is crazy? Well consider this ... who would you rather Calderon try to guard: John Wall or Kris Humphries?
It remains difficult to find effective, outside-the-box solutions, but that's usually true of nonsensical, self-inflicted problems. As long as Fisher continues to make crazy decisions that hurt the team, we here at P&T will do our best to find even crazier ways to fix it.