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Thread: Knicks Ranked 8th In Being Championship Contenders...

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    Default Knicks Ranked 8th In Being Championship Contenders...

    Five-Year Windows

    By: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    RealGM.com Writer

    September 10, 2009 4:06 PM

    Everyone wants to win and everyone wants to win as quickly as possible, but the smartest GMs in the NBA realize a little patience now will almost always make for a more successful future.

    Success, especially long-term success, is judged differently from town to town. In Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Chicago, winning championships is the only reason to get out of bed in the morning, but in places like Utah, New Orleans and Sacramento, flirting with the second round of the playoffs will do.

    This list is all about championships and the mentality that if the Larry O'Brien trophy is not hoisted some point in the next five seasons, it will be all for naught.

    The criteria for this ranking is more based on feel and intuition than any specific formula. I largely gave precedence to teams that have already proven to be legitimate championship contenders, which knocks down teams like Portland and Oklahoma City, who are each positioned for 2013 as well as any team outside of Orlando.

    1. Lakers: For the next two seasons, the Lakers should enter the playoffs as the prohibitive championship favorites. [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] has not given any indication of beginning to age in any meaningful way and the depth of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] cannot be matched by any other team, other than possibly the supporting pieces around [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] in two or three seasons.
    There are three main issues, however, that will determine whether the Lakers are still title contenders in '12, '13 and '14:
    a. Does Bynum become a star center?
    b. Can they upgrade the point guard position by the time Kobe absolutely needs to be preserved?
    c. Who succeeds Phil Jackson?

    2. Magic: Until [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] or possibly Bynum take a major step forward, [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] has no peer in this league at the center position and so he is arguably the one player most GMs would most like to build a franchise around.
    He will continue to improve offensively and Stan Van Gundy has created an excellent system that should work with a lot of fairly average pieces to replace their current crop.
    Unlike [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], Howard is locked up long term and is almost certain to remain in Orlando for his entire prime years.

    3. Blazers: Even though [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] have exceeded draft expectations and Kevin Pritchard has developed one of the deepest rosters of the current era, Portland's title hopes almost exclusively begin and end with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]'s development. Simply, if he develops into 80% of what we thought of him in June 2007, I don't see how the Blazers won't win at least one or two titles; if he doesn't, I don't see how they can win any.
    Unless LeBron leaves Cleveland for a situation where titles are practically gift-wrapped, the Blazers are the extremely early favorites in seasons '12-'16.

    4. Cavaliers: Unless/until LeBron leaves Cleveland, they will be a title contender regardless of his supporting cast. Looking at how bad that 66-win team was when he was not on the floor is a complete testament to how 'curse word' good he really is.
    The Cavaliers don't have another potential star on their roster, depending on how you might rate Mo Williams, and they punted on their potential 2010 cap space in order to improve their championship chances for one season.
    They are plenty good enough to win it all in 2010, but are a cut below the Lakers, Magic, Spurs and Celtics.

    5. Celtics: Because of the bizarre [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] summer, the non-[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]/[Only registered and activated users can see links. ] version of the Celtics is not quite as rosy as it looked when the point guard was routinely putting up triple-doubles in the playoffs. Even entertaining the concept of trading Rondo is a bad indicator for his future, whether it is in Boston or not.
    But Danny Ainge is the most under-appreciated GM in the business and is almost singled-handedly carrying the 'former player as top decision-maker' torch. He does as good of a job as anyone as seeing multiple moves ahead and that is why he was able to trade for Garnett, not because of any incestuous loyalty on the part of Kevin McHale (though that didn't exactly hurt matters).

    6. Spurs: Like the Celtics, San Antonio has more of a two-year window (being generous with 10-11) and even though major retooling will almost certainly be occurring by the summer of 2012, the current window in undeniably strong.
    What happens with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will determine how long the post-[Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will take, since I don't expect Duncan to be as fortunate as [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] was when he missed the entire 96-97 season.

    7. Oklahoma City: I have a long article forthcoming on the future of the Thunder, which will flesh out how I see their next five-plus seasons playing out. Basically, I expect them to come up a little short of a championship behind LeBron and Roy/Oden/Aldridge, unless something major happens in regards to Phoenix's unprotected number one in 2010.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] has a supporting cast that LeBron would kill for, but it is looking like there will be too many doubles instead of home runs around him, which he might not be good enough to overcome.
    Long story short, for now, they are an extremely respectable seventh considering they won just 23 games last season.

    8. Knicks: LeBron or not, the Knicks will sign 'somebody' in 2010 and they will improve. The myopia on Donnie Walsh being 'all-in' on LeBron has prevented many people from realizing that the Knicks have better young talent than they have since the early 90s, as well as the fact that Mike D'Antoni's system inherently creates overachievers (see: Duhon, Chris, 08-09).
    The development of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is the most important issue for the Knicks and he represents they're best shot at signing LeBron, outside of the cap going back up high enough for a second max contract to be signed.
    Move the Knicks to the second or third slot if they get LeBron, keep them at eight if they sign [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] or [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and drop them to 13th if they settle for [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    9. Heat: The recent [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] news hurts their outlook because he is such a unique scorer that he has the potential to give Miami two very efficient 25 point per night scorers. They also have significant 2010 cap space that will is certain to not go unused, and could even go to LeBron, which would instantaneously propel the Heat to the top slot in terms of the five-year window. If [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is the guy to go, then that puts them right behind Orlando.
    At the same time, however, it is not inconceivable that Wade leaves Miami, possibly for the team next on the list.

    10. Bulls: There may be better point guards in the NBA right now ([Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]) and there could be better point guards in the future (John Wall, possibly Rondo depending on opinion), but [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is the surest bet to have a run at the top of the position that extends until 2020.
    I'm not too keen on their recent draft haul and losing [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will hurt a lot at first, but they have 2010 cap space and it wasn't too long ago when Kobe and a whole lot of other people saw [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] as something potentially very special.

    11. Nuggets: With [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] as the Nuggets 'do-everything' point guard, the 2009 playoffs were probably their best chance. They will soon be the, at best, third most talented team in their own division.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will probably play out his current deal (opting out in 2011) and then sign elsewhere without bringing a championship, but they will continue to be a dangerous team until then.

    12. Jazz: The odd chance of the Jazz, a probably playoff team in 2010, winning the John Wall lottery via the Knicks' pick nudges them upwards and negates the uncertainty of the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] situation, where chances are they will lose him for nothing as Cleveland did several years ago.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is an adequate and affordable replacement, but [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is not nearly good enough to overcome what is a quickly aging and underwhelming supporting cast.
    The question I would love to know is whether they would trade the rights to Wall if they won the lottery, or would they deal away Williams and fully rebuild the way Seattle did when they drafted Durant and subsequently dealt [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and let [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] leave via free agency.
    As far as five-year windows go, the Presti method with Wall would improves their chances.

    13. Hornets: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is good enough to turn any team into a contender, even if his supporting cast continues to tread water. The Hornets have had to build around Paul using limited means, which demonstrates that the NBA is still a league of the haves and have-nots when it comes to longterm success. The Spurs are the exception to the rule and if Paul was drafted by the Lakers, Knicks or Mavs, he would be playing with a few more first round picks at the very least. I'm not sure where they would be had they not lucked into the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] salary cap dump by the Bulls and the steal of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] in the 2003 Draft.

    14. Raptors: As valuable as Chris Bpsh has been to the Raptors, his limitations as a superstar that is clearly a notch below LeBron, Wade and Howard are more to blame for missing the playoffs or bouncing out early than his supporting cast.
    Unless Bosh becomes the Kevin McHale to LeBron/Wade's Larry Bird, his chances of winning are probably best in Toronto than as the main guy on a different team.

    15. Sixers: I love the way Ed Stefanski has built his version of the Sixers, particularly the value they found in the past two drafts in [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]. They were a playoff team last year and the additions of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] (essentially) and Holiday, along with the maturity of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and Speights make Philadelphia the team in the Eastern Conference most capable of making a huge jump this season.

    16. Nets: The Nets are setup for another run similar to the one they enjoyed early this decade with impressive talent at center and shooting guard, but the void at superstar will be difficult to fill, even with cap space, for as long as they're in New Jersey.

    17. Mavericks: The Mavs aren't that far from returning to the Finals, but it is clear that they would need homecourt advantage, quite a bit of help in the way of upsets and it has to happen immediately.
    Dallas has been so good for so long and were almost immediately good when Mark Cuban bought them that it will be incredibly fascinating to see the type of strategy he takes in rebuilding the team. I can almost guarantee that Cuban won't go more than one season without having a new potential MVP candidate to replace [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    18. Wizards: Washington has great depth in terms of offensive weapon, but they need to consolidate some of that in order to get more traditionally talented up front.
    Washington will be very exciting for the foreseeable future, but [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] are on the wrong side of their prime and it is hard to see anything big happening unless they find a way to deal for [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    19. Warriors: Move the Warriors up several spots if Chris Cohan ever mercifully sells this franchise to a potentially competent owner (Larry Ellison! Larry Ellison! Larry Ellison!). For a franchise that basically fired their GM, [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] leaves behind a lot of talent. [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will probably become Golden State's first frequent All-Star since Mullin, plus the pieces of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] are young, talented and signed to affordable contracts.

    Most promising is the fact that the soap opera aspects of 'The Great Timeout' ([Only registered and activated users can see links. ] wanting to be traded, Don Nelson doing what he wants and alienating who he wants, lingering bad blood with Monta, etc.) make the Warriors potentially bad enough to get a very high lottery pick and draft John Wall, which would put them automatically in the Portland/Oklahoma City realm.

    20. Hawks: Put [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] next to LeBron or Wade and they probably go 16-5 to cruise to the '09 NBA Championship, but with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] they struggle to win in the mid-40s and are a 2nd round exit team. As good as Johnson undoubtedly is, he is not nearly good enough to be the best team on a championship team and his decision to leave Phoenix probably cost everyone there a ring (not blaming him, just saying).

    21. Wolves: Minnesota has extremely productive big men in [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], a heart and soul point guard in [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and they will be bad enough to get good lottery picks in each of the next two drafts. Plus, the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] draft rights will become increasingly valuable, no matter what any David Kahn haters might say.
    If they win the '10 Lottery, the Wolves will make NBA history by having the deepest collection of All-Star caliber point guards ever.

    22. Rockets: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is probably done. Most optimistically, Yao Ming will return at 80% of his old self and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] was the 37th ranked point guard in terms of PER during the 08-09 season. They playoff run said more about the narcolepsy of the 2009 Lakers than it did about the future of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    Daryl Morey will need to pull Houston's next superstar out of that supposedly genius hat in order to put it back on.

    23. Suns: Phoenix really should revise those Amare trade talks with Golden State because it instantly improves their longterm outlook. The Warriors probably will be desperate enough to do it come December 1st.
    There was once a point when the Suns were setup to win both in the present and longterm and they would have with an owner better equipped to spend to the demands of a championship team.

    24. Clippers: The Clippers are in an identical situation as the Warriors in the fact that the culture created by ownership doesn't exactly foster winning. Unlike the Warriors, Donald Sterling has no intention of selling the cash cow that holds the Staples Center ransom for 41 nights per year.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is a great starting piece and they have enough cap space to make LeBron or Wade think twice.

    25. Pistons: Detroit could make a few trades involving Rip Hamilton and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], but their team is their team and they won't be better than the sum of their collective parts.

    26. Bucks: The Bucks have enough marginally talented pieces to remain bad enough to remain in the lottery to collect an additional potential starter or two until [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] develops. John Hammond should strong consider conducting an MLB-style fire sale in January and February of 2010, beginning with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] to the Cavs.

    27. Kings: Sacramento would be significantly higher if they drafted Rubio instead of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]. He's a bad fit, isn't a traditional point guard in any way and can't make anyone better.
    The good news is that they should once again be one of the worst three or four teams in the NBA this season.

    28. Grizzlies: I expect the decision to draft [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will live in infamy and we're barely two months out of it. Rubio isn't [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and he probably won't be as good as [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], but Thabeet certainly isn't even close to touching the potential greatness of pre-injury Sam Bowie.

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] could become one of the league's top-15 players and it really won't matter now. There have been too many eyebrow raising decisions to count and instead of using the Presti method referenced above, Memphis is on the receiving end of cap dump trades of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    29. Bobcats: For all of Charlotte's trips to the lottery since coming into the NBA, there is a decided dearth of high end talent. Most of these other teams have at least one player you can get behind as a potential All-Star, but the Bobcats don't have a single player like that.

    30. Pacers: No offense intended, Andrew Perna (or to Bird, Jim O'Brien and David Morway), but I had to do it.
    Some people have written to us over the years wondering if Andrew was an alternative moniker of mine in order to make it appear as though the content on RealGM was more than a one-man shop and at least now this confirms there is no truth to those rumors.

    In a certain sense, being last on this list is not a condemnation of the current regime and the collective talents of the team; it is a very backhanded compliment. the Pacers have enough talent, mainly [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], to compete for a 7th or 8th seed in each of the next three or four years, but they don't have a potential superstar and barring injury to Granger, won't be bad enough to draft one. They also won't be able to lure one to Indiana via all the cap space in the world.

    (End of Article)

    Really interesting article. I like the breakdown of every team and what is possible. I think people are noticing that the Knicks do have a lot of young talent but it's going to come down to development of these players. Let's hope everything is a go for 2010. So who ever comes here (LeBron) can be that piece we need to become a threat in the NBA.

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    Member Dirk's Avatar
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    The key is getting allan Houstons knees back together and him making a comeback, or put him in a wheelchair and see if he can still shoot that sweet jumper from the seat

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    Veteran Paul1355's Avatar
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    Thumbs up agreed with this article and expect more

    Personally I think Gallinari will break out and impress many people around the league...I agreed with this writer that Gallo will impact Lebron if he has a good enough year.

    The Knicks can't make a million moves this year like they did last year. It ruins any chemistry that you want a team to have and we all saw that Mike D had this team start off 6-2 by having everyone together from training camp without making moves. Once the Knicks made moves, they started losing. If anything, trade Curry and Jeffries because them going is something Donnie has to do for more cap space past for 2010.

    After this year, the Knicks young crop of players like Gallo, Chandler, Douglas, Hill, Nate and Lee(if Nate and Lee stay) will have a better understanding of Mike D's system and will obviously improve....This team just needs a big time player to carry them in order to be a top contender, FACT.

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