The New York Knicks have seen some dark times, but this season is certainly making it’s case for that top spot. Aside from being nearly 20 games under .500 (21-40), and how they look on the court (27th in the NBA for defense, J.R. Smith going trigger happy, practicing his freedom of shot, and Bargnani absolutely failing to dunk against the sixers), they are having off the court problems as well. As of recently, Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith have traded shots back and forth, in front of the media. Anyone who knows sports and the history, you know the end is near when your own players start showing internal conflict, externally. J.R. Smith, questioned the heart of his team, which he had reason to do, and Stoudemire responded in an interview saying “You have to look yourself in the mirror before you make statements”, which he also had reason to do. This subtle war of words exposes a way bigger picture than intended. Just the same way as when you look at the Knicks playing and it looks like 5 guys playing for 5 different teams, against one whole team. The chemistry is just not there, in any walk of life for the Knicks players. But why?, on paper, the Knicks have a playoff worthy squad, but they can’t seem to get it together. It doesn’t help when your starting point guard, Ray Felton (Get it together fam), is pulling guns out on females, either. To add insult to injury, on March 19th Knicks fans are planning a protest in front of the Garden in opposition to Owner James Dolan, who has been fucking the Knicks up for years. It’s about time. But when the fan’s start opposing their own team, you know it’s just an ugly time for a franchise, a time that will be locked away in history if we could ever escape it. The Knicks may not have the worst record, but they’re still the most embarrassing team in the NBA, for their on-court play and off the court conduct. So the question is, where do we go from here? How does this franchise get on its feet again?
In recent years, Knicks ownership has bought or traded for big players, rather than actually putting together a team. They don’t build around anyone. The Knicks franchise hasn’t had someone that they really built their team around since the days of Patrick Ewing. As good of players as they’ve had since then, they really never attempted to make a team out of them. They need to focus on one player and build a team with people who compliment their star, so there is chemistry and a more established leader. Carmelo Anthony is the closest thing to a leader, but he’s in charge of a monster that is bigger than him at this point (too many chiefs, not enough indians). Melo wants to stay in New York, but he wants to win a championship, and more importantly he deserves it. Carmelo Anthony is the man to build the team around, but he’s likely to explore free agency after this season, so the Knicks ownership has their work cut out for them. Melo, like most star players, likes to experience their period of free agency, because who doesn’t like to get their ass kissed and ball’s licked at the same time by nearly every organization who has the necessity and cap space for them?. The Knicks need to make a promising case for Anthony, with evidence that things will look up. A lot of it, will have to require patience from Anthony until the summer of 2015, when the team can really start shedding some dead weight. The Knicks will have some money to flex this offseason, in which they should use to start their rebuilding process. This process begins with looking to max out on a deal for Melo, and to look at not only star players, but players who would fit in a team around Melo. In all great teams, there were the sidekicks, the two players that served as the Batman and Robin role. Worthy and Magic, Pippen and Jordan, Stockton and Malone, Kobe and Shaq, you get the point. These guys set the tone and attitude, while the rest of the team knew their role and were humble enough to accept who the captains were. An essential part of the revival is trying to find a team desperate enough to trade for J.R. Smith, whose the obvious favorite to get shipped next day air out of town. Hardaway Jr. can easily take Smith’s place for way less of a cost and headache. That’s the most you can do until next year, in which they’ll be able to free up a lot of space. But as of the immediate future that’s all the Knicks can do. Us Knick fans pray, that Melo just has the patience and sees what we see, if he works through one more season with us. By next summer, the Knicks can let go of Felton, Shumpert, Prigioni and the overall free agency pool blossoms. There’s an all-star cast of free agents next July, with everyone from Kevin Love to Roy Hibbert. But one player that stands out, to fit the New York Knick puzzle, would be Rajon Rondo. If the Knicks could sign a play maker at point, such as Rondo, it would be a huge gain and something a Knicks team hasn’t had in some time. With Melo being a monster scorer and Rondo being one of the best at setting up, making things happen, they could work. The next piece would be establishing depth on the bench and some type of presence in the paint. Luckily, this day in age, the big man’s role has slightly diminished and there has been a changing of the guards (pardon the play on words) to a more fast paced game, so the Knicks could get by with a slightly above average center. I mean, just look at Chris Bosh. He’s the “big man” on the dynasty of this era in basketball, you think he would’ve lasted in the era of Hakeem Alajuwon and Shaq in their prime?. The game has changed.
This scenario presented, is of course assuming that Melo can see the vision through, and that Rondo is even considering coming to New York, and That the Ownership of the Knicks smartens up enough to build around a player again. But this is James Dolan and the same office that opted to get Bargnani, instead of Marcus Aldrige. The same office that pushed some of the greatest coaches in Knicks history out, so I’m not counting on their alarm clock to go off. As much as I’d love to see Melo stay in New York, from the standpoint of a Knick fan, I also believe a player of his stature would short himself not going somewhere that presents a real possibility of a championship. Nobody deserves to be a Dominique Wilkins. A player who was great, but played on a team that was so lackluster it overshadowed their talent. Melo isn’t getting any younger, primes don’t last that long and he has to eat while the food is still hot, I can’t blame the man if he takes his talents elsewhere. As Knick fans, some of us are idealist, hopeless romantics, while other’s have developed into pessimists as a product of years of disappointment. I’m trying to represent the middle man, the realist, the guy who accepts the reality at it’s worst, but prays for the best.