What direction should the Knicks go?

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How should we turn this franchise around? After seeing another season lost. What should the Knicks focus be? Well your guess is as good as mine. The problem starts with our roster being clogged with a core of Marbury, Crawford, Curry and Randolph, all players that take up to much of our cap room, causing us to have no flexibility with trades and signings.

 

While I can see no reasonable way to cure this problem for next year, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have to look at the situation and consider the fact that we are probably in for another year like this one if our situation is ever going to turn around. I have a few options I’ve been considering. Marbury, should he stay or go? What to do with Curry and Randolph mess, general coaching and GM issues.

Obviously lack of leadership and direction in the front office is our biggest and most important area that needs to be addressed. The fact that it has even gotten this far is beyond my ability to reason.

Isiah Thomas as everyone knows has done a terrible job coaching and as a GM. I will briefly go through some points of interest because most of them have been discussed at length by everyone on this site thousands of times over by now. Isiah has created a losing atmosphere and it is clear he has no idea what he is doing. He has made mistakes in several trades. Instead of admitting his mistakes and taking steps to correct them, he uses his position as coach to try and force the pieces he has acquired to work together. It’s not going to happen.

One mistake is getting Marbury and then acquiring Crawford, two guards that fit into one role on the team. Another mistake was acquiring Zach Randolph to go along Eddie Curry, obviously not learning from his mistake with the guard position, he puts together two guys that can’t don’t play well at center/forward. Now with those moves, having obviously failed over this season and in Crawford’s and Marbury’s case over several season, his pride gets in the way and he continues to try and make these guys play together. It’s like he has two “square pegs” and is trying to place them in a “circle” and he keeps trying to fit the square into a working puzzle. He just doesn’t get that it does not work.

Instead of putting his pride aside, admitting it was a mistake and moving in another direction, finding a “circle”, he just keeps trying to make it fit, to make it work. It’s like watching a kid pound a cardboard puzzle piece into a place it obviously doesn’t naturally fit but pounded enough it crumples and bends and manages to stay in place, only resembling half of what it used to be, now broken and bent out of shape, not truly completing the puzzle. Just like Curry, Marbury and Quentin Richardson. Forced to play with and conform around Randolph and Crawford, they have become bent and broken pieces of the puzzle that are jammed into a place it clearly doesn’t belong.

They just don’t fit around Zach and Crawford. It took him 5 years to realize Marbury and Crawford can’t play together. Marburys lack of palying time, before he was hurt, may be more about a feud between Marbury and Thomas than it is about Isiahs ability as a GM/coach to realize that the style they play and natural ability of both players won’t work together. How long for him to give up on the Curry/Randolph experiment. Well we have them both for another 3 seasons after this one. Their contracts make them both pretty much unmovable. Good Job Isiah. Another thing is that we have decent players that don’t get time because Thomas refuses to give up on his plan to have Curry become a force in this league.

Lee, Randolph Morris and Chandler all should be getting more minutes. With Lee it is more about touches on offense to develop his confidence, then minutes. Then there are guys like Quentin Richardson who is a good player, whose game has suffered under Isiahs coaching. Oh the list goes on. Marbury’s lack of production can be directly put on Thomas for taking the ball out of Steph’s hands and keeping him from being the productive player he has always been. Nate Robison and Mardy Collins development have pretty much screeched to a halt. Nate is seeing more time with the absence of Marbury and Crawford. This halt hurts not just the players but the Knicks future. You want these guys to develop, you want them to become valuable NBA players, which you can either trade or groom to fit the roles they are best suited for.

Right now what Isiah has created is worse then what the Clippers once were. The Clippers were a team where new and exciting players developed and left for other team. They were fun to watch. You could root for them. Isiahs Knicks aren’t even that. He doesn’t develop players; he has created a place like an elephant graveyard, where old overpaid NBA players go to die. Wait no one wants to come here, so it’s more like an old age home, where old NBA players no one wants are dropped off by their GMs and forced to go to live out their remaining years and die. We need to change this perception around the league. We need to rebuild a positive place. It can be done, NY is a great city and the right players can turn this team around and a super star like L. James or K. Bryant would be treated like a king here.

We need to find the next corner stone of our franchise, because we don’t have a good one right now. We at least have to change the attitude of this place and make it good for young developing players. Guys like Morris who is probably miserable, because they aren’t getting time and they aren’t winning. It’s not like they ride the bench on the Spurs, Lakers, Pistons, Mavericks or some other championship contending team. They ride the bench on a terrible team. They aren’t developing and they aren’t contributing. They aren’t even cheering because the team never wins. Why would you stay? Would you stay just for the fame of being in NY? When you can go play somewhere get playing time and actually become a star.

Then you could come back here and be cheered just as much as you light up the Knicks for 50, like Lebron, Kobe and Michael Jordan did. Your other option is to play for the Knicks where you will ride the pine behind some slightly above average player, who gets big minutes because the GM pulled the big trade for them and is trying to prove he was right. Then when you have 3 years in league and you’ve played 15minutes of NBA ball, so Scouts don’t know about you, you’ve lost a step, your skills are rusty and your instincts are shot, you’ve got no potential because you are now entering your prime so no one signs you and you’re out of NBA at McDonalds flipping burgers. We need change now, but I am resigned to the fact that Thomas will remain GM/Coach until end of year and the trade deadline has past. We made no moves for future years, because Thomas is still trying to win this year, which has long been lost, another part of his pride that gets in the way of him succeeding.

Realistically they will not be able to move Curry and Randolph, but it is also clear one must go. I’d lean towards getting rid of Curry. He is mentally soft and has let the presence of Randolph affect his play. On the other hand Randolph seems to be unfazed by the presence of anyone else on the team. Randolph rebounds and plays slightly more defense then Curry. Randolph gets most of the touches when on offense, causing Curry to become the odd man out. It is similar to Crawford and Marbury situation.

Curry splitting time with Zach doesn’t work because then he isn’t getting into the flow of the game and finding himself in foul trouble. From a money stand point, the contracts are of the same length Randolphs’ being about 5 million more each year. This is the problem with moving these two players. They both have long enormous contracts. Unfortunately I don’t believe we can do anything with them at all. The only hope is that Curry can string together a couple of good games like he had at the beginning of last year scoring 20-30 points a game to improve his trade value. Maybe fool another GM into taking a chance on a young center. With Zach sitting on the bench, maybe that can happen, however it is unlikely.

Teams would be likely to be interested in Zach, but his contract is way too big to move. Curry is our only hope of trading. I’d trade him for just about anything. It would clear up minutes for other guys like Lee and Morris. The thing is we are going to take a beating in any trade that involves Curry. The important thing is to get rid of him and not replace him with another huge contract. Smaller contracts and I don’t care about the talent. This again is very unlikely, unless we package him with someone like Lee or Balkman.

Trading Lee and Balkman is not something I’d like to do. But sometimes to get better we have to get rid of something of value. I would not get rid of Lee or Balkman unless we were getting someone proven in return. This team needs a drastic change.Realistically we can’t trade anyone without giving away talent and value. GM’s across the NBA know we are in a bad spot and no one is willing to give us a fair deal. So with that said it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So do we move Stephs’ expiring contract? Isiah has made the core of the Knicks players like Marbury, Crawford, Randolph and Curry, players that just can’t co-exist with each other. Marbury and Crawford are meant to play the same type of role, a ball in hand guard.

Zack and Curry have negative effect on each others game. It is clear that on Isiahs’ Knicks, Marbury has no place. His natural talent would put him in the role Isiah has given to Crawford. This has made Marburys’ game suffer. In my opinion Marbury can still be an affective guard if he is cut loose and allowed to be himself. Marbury and Crawford cannot co-exist; one or the other must go this off season. I have long been opposed to Crawford being the focal point of this team. I have to give credit where credit is due. That after all hopes of playoffs have been dashed, Crawford has started playing better. There is no pressure on him right now. If this was a pure basketball situation I’d take Marbury over Crawford any day of the week. This is not pure basketball. Marbury has a huge ego, this causes problems with teammates, he is a head case, hard to control or coach and his 20 mill expiring contract make him an easy sell to other teams.

Do we pull the trigger and get rid of someone who really has no place on this team? The Knicks, if smart should get something of value in return. Then Crawford would be free to run the team and step up as a leader. This scenario is most likely the way it will go down. Isiah has already made Crawford as the focal point of this team and that is unlikely to change. Crawford doesn’t seem to have the ego/attitude/control problems Marbury has. Crawford seems like a good guy to me. The question then is Crawford good enough to base this team around? I don’t think he’s got super star talent to build a team around. So if we drafted a guy or traded for a guy and Crawford remained the center focal point of this team, he would hinder that player’s ability to develop.

So instead I offer this option, trade Crawford and keep Marbury. This is why; Marburys’ contract expires after next year. His 20 mill will come off the cap. Get rid of Crawford give the ball back to Marbury, let him go out in a blaze, then his contract will be up and he’ll be gone. I still think Marbury can perform the same if not better then Jamaal. Crawford has performed well this year in Marburys absence, which improves his trade value. His contract is not that bad to scare teams away. He has talent and teams looking for a decent second option to compliment their star, should take interest. We could get something of value in return for him, preferably expiring contracts. 2008-2009 we’d have Steph and Nate as our point guards and hopefully the young guys will get some time to develop. So 2009-2010 we’d be free of both Crawford and Marbury, and be able to start from scratch. The only way I’d trade Marbury is if we are packaging him with someone like Zack or Curry. Let someone else choke on their salary.

But to put them together is nearly impossible; Zach and Marbury combine for 36 million next year, Curry and Marbury Combine for 31 million. That’s more than 50% of the current salary cap. Some teams would end up trading half the team to match 36 mill to complete the deal.

For all the people saying that we can’t rebuild or waste time, I have one question. This past season Isiah brought in another expensive long contract of a “super star” like Curry and Randolph. We are suffering through an 18-45 season. A season we might not get 30 wins. We have a team of losers we can’t trade. We have to watch them win or lose and are disappointed. Wouldn’t this horrible season have been easier to swallow if we were watching a core of young talented players who are hungry to make it in the NBA? Guys like Demetris Nichols, Jared Jordan (if we kept them), Wilson Chandler, Randolph Morris, Nate Robinson, Mardy Collins, David Lee and Renaldo Balkman. Sure they probably would have had similar results as “Isiahs All-Stars”, but they would be getting experience and developing.

They’d lose and you could chalk it up to lack of experience and growing pains, not lack of heart, hustle or team work. These players are coachable, no ego, you know every night they’d be competing, because they are trying to prove they belong. You’d look forward to next year. When each player would mature and develop and then you’d see it starts to payoff. They could be molded by a good coach to complete a team. To be those pieces that fit around each other. Not like this bunch of overpaid players who can’t be on the floor at the same time (Curry, Randolph, Marbury and Crawford) Right now what do we have to look forward to? The only thing we are looking forward to is roster and coaching changes, instead of looking forward to our developing players returning. Watching a young team go through growing pains is tough, but it is better then watching an old team suck.

It is better because you believe that this group of young, talented, hungry players can get better. If the current core of Marbury, Crawford, Randolph and Curry remain the focus and direction of this team, we will get more of what we have seen the past years.

This last game against Portland made me very happy. This is what I want to see in the future. The team was without Marbury, Crawford, Curry and Randolph and the team competed. It was an exciting effort by the younger guys on the team, not the core of losers Isiah has based his team on. If none of those guys played again all year I’d be happy. It is about time Wilson Chandler saw some playing time and he played well. Now if we could find minutes for Morris. Even veteran Quentin Richardson has been playing better now that he’s getting his number called more often. Granted they didn’t win, but I’d be much happier watching the young guys go 18 and 45, then the core of clowns Isiah has let dominate this team.

So over all I’d like to see a Coaching/GM changes, Crawford get traded, Marburys contract expire and a trade of either Randolph or Curry or both if possible. Build through the draft, live and die with young inexperienced, talented, potential players. If this is accomplished, the results still wouldn’t be seen until after next year. Yes we are in for another bad year. Then at least we could look forward to next year. There would be a light at the end of the tunnel, because if this team stays as is, the light just gets pushed further and further away. There is no way to look forward to next year or the year after that if the team remains as is. There is nothing to look forward to for this team as is for at least 3 years. The only thing right now we can guarantee is that players like Lee, Balkman, Robison, Morris and Chandler will all leave us through free agency to go play somewhere that give them more time and actually wins. We want players to want to stay. We want them to want to be here.

All in all these changes won’t take place over night, and some might not be possible at all. Dealing Curry and Crawford may not be possible. But I’d trade away Curry and Balkman to get expiring contracts and draft picks. Heck if they’d take Zack off our hands I’d deal Lee. Chances are we’d lose him to free agency anyway if we don’t change the perception of the Knicks. Maybe we keep him but will over pay, and then are stuck with another overpaid guy. To get better we may have to get worse first, and you can’t get much worse then 18-45 soon to be 18-46 after Dallas tonight. There obviously no changes happening this year, for now we are stuck looking forward to the changes for next year, instead of basketball next year.

Note: Just learned part of my wish came true, Curry may have season ending surgery, so he won’t play. That also puts a damper on him actually improving his trade value by ending the season with his strong offensive game. So it looks like we’ll be stuck with him for the foreseeable future.

- JZero29

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