The New York Knicks Are Bad

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Recently, the New York Knicks acquired Steve Francis from the Orlando Magic for Anfernee Hardaway and Trevor Ariza. On the surface, it seems like Orlando got a great deal. Digging deeper – and watching the performance of the Knicks – it seems like Orlando got a great deal. I’m under no illusions that the Ariza-Milicic front line will win any titles but they aren’t in salary cap hell for years to come.

If I were playing Risk with Isiah Thomas, I’d ask him to trade me Ukraine, which is strong (unlike New York’s D), for Madagascar.

Steve Francis can theoretically ball but doesn’t play well with others, two attributes which he shares with the rest of New York’s roster. I’m glad he’s fond the strength to carry on after Cuttino Mobley was traded to Sacramento, when he commented that “[Mobley] not being here is going to be tough for me. I don’t know what I’m going to wake up for.”

The Knicks have the most expensive starting backcourt in history (number of playoff series wins by Francis and Stephon Marbury: 0). Things have fallen a long way since the 1970s when Clyde and Earl the Pearl were winning Association titles. Back then, Larry Brown was beginning his coaching career with the Carolina Cougars, who have a higher liklehood of winning the N.B.A. title than the Knicks.

Along with Jalen Rose, New York starts three max contracts next to each other. Does any other team do this? Is anyone else this bad?

This off-season, Orlando can use their cap room to sign a second-tier scorer and a shooter who will fill the Triangle will Dwight Howard. They’ll compete for spots 5-8 in the 06-07 season, when Larry Brown will be wishing he was still coaching Kansas (“Stephon, have you considered transferring?).

Talent and chemistry are critical elements of winning. Isiah Thomas can evaluate talent. He drafts well. He cannot evaluate chemistry. How are the Knicks supposed to function? What about Q-Richardson, last summer’s acquisition? Why would anyone agree to a sign-and-trade with the Knicks knowing they might be overlooked so hastily? Jamal Crawford?

Playing four-out around David Lee and running all game would be an effective strategy with a pass first guard like Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. If only Larry Brown cannot push a magical button that will turn Stephon Marbury into Chauncey Billups or Steve Francis into Rip Hamilton. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts…