One thing I have learned, from coaching basketball, is that even the most poorly skilled player, if he cooperates with your system, is an asset.
Sometimes, your most highly skilled player, if he alienates teammates, fails to get them involved, etc., is your worst player.
Right now, the Knicks don't seem to have a player that singlehandedly ruins games for everyone. Rather, we seem to be suffering from a lack of a competent big man. And, as a coach, I can tell you that a tough, intelligent big man is the most important thing in basketball: he can get you easy buckets, move the ball between the three point areas and the low post and elsewhere, save the team from easy layups by wing players, guarantee you get your boards, etc.
Still, people continue to look for a player to blame for our perpetual losing, be it Curry, Duhon, Crawford, Harrington, Jeffries, amongst others. Some of these players played center, sure, but it's up to a GM to obtain players that make it so these players aren't playing in the middle.
Currently, the punching bag is Duhon. Duhon, however, is just a distributor. We had Ward and Childs, both shot poorly from the field, which seems to be the main beef with Duhon, and were merely distributors. Still, for years, the Knicks were contenders.
So, when our team sucks as much as they do, for as long as it has, can all the blame simply be dumped on this one crappy player?
As during the Childs-Ward era, we could use a PG upgrade. However, as long as we continue to ignore our lack of a replacement for Patrick Ewing, i.e., a center that can block easy layup shots and score in the post, we will continue to suck.
For evidence as to the truth of this, simply look at how Crawford and Zach Randolph are doing, now that they can play alongside competent bigs: Horford (Crawford) and Gasol (Randolph). Both are in their respective conferences' playoffs race. Both are winning, and both have, with their play, created buzz around themselves and their teams.
If we had kept both, whilst adding a good big man, I predict we'd be a 4-6 seed in the East. David Lee, as good as he is at what he does, isn't a center: his post game isn't on the level, or consistency, of that of a good center, his shot blocking is non-existent. If he could play alongside a good center, his efforts would not be, or naught.
Just look at how well Memphis does with Randolph and Gasol (a real center) in their frontcourt. Compare that to DLee and Jeffries in the Knicks' frontcourt. What's the common denominator? Two good power forwards: Randolph and Lee. Yet in one situation, the team is winning (Randolph's), while in the other (Lee's) they aren't. Why? Because Lee isn't a real center (Jeffries is just a bum), and he should be playing power forward alongside an actual center.
As things are, and I'm sure this will offend the Knicks' 2010 cult, I see the team's future as being very shaky, for years to come.
Walsh and D'Antoni are too reactionary, too impatient. Instead of being wise enough to know that 2010 is just some stupid pop culture craze, they seem to have bought into it. They could have seen the value in certain of our team's previous players, kept those and gotten rid of others.
Instead, when the media began talking about purging everything from the Isiah era, they did exactly what everyone in pop-sports, including people not at all professionally involved in basketball, said they should.
I hope, for the sake of the team, Walsh doesn't simply try to buy a good team. We failed at that. We have some worthwhile players. Let's keep them, get rid of the bums, pick up a solid big and, if we can, a good shooting guard.