How to fix the broken New York Knicks

What in the world is going on in Gotham?

Full disclosure: I am not a Knicks fan, but I am a basketball fan. I’m doing this because I know a lot of Knicks fans, and its past time for the self-styled Mecca of Basketball to have a team they can be proud of and stay proud of for more than a few years. Let us be honest with each other, for most of my life, New York City has been called the Mecca of Basketball, and in that time, the professional team which plays in our shining jewel of an arena in Midtown has been, simply put, hot garbage. Now, this is in some ways due to the mismanagement of two separate general managers, Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas. In fact, since the 2000′s, the Knicks have had one good season. Last year’s team, which won 54 games, and for whatever reason, those two teams feel as far away as Hawaii is from Jackson Heights. Right now, this team is past broken and on the fast track to reminding Knicks fans of the era of Ken Bannister, Rory Sparrow, and Johnny Newman with Bernard King being played ably by Carmelo Anthony. This needs to stop, and I think I know how to stop it.

Step 1: Do not trade Iman Shumpert.

Photo Credit: Debby Wong\USA Today Sports

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Another Knick sacrificed on the altar of the win now ethos?

Credit for this stat goes to Robin Lundberg of ESPN Radio in NY: only 4 out of the last 20 draft picks by the NY Knicks have stayed with the team longer than 3 years. In a league where young players are on controlled salaries, that is a terrifyingly bad number. Now while you could argue that the Knicks are bad drafters, this point really is not as true as it could have been a few years ago. What it actually shows is just how unwilling to let young players develop the Knicks organization actually is, and how greedy James Dolan is for stars. Would Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Jordan Hill look good on this team right now? Do you think they would help with some of the problems that this team is having? You don’t have any of them, not a single one. Two for a reason we will get to later, and the other because you felt like you had to trade a young asset to Houston for the corpse of Tracy McGrady. This is common, honestly, and it needs to stop right here and right now.

 

Iman Shumpert can be a building block for the future of the Knicks. He is a dogged defensive guard, and has the potential to be, at the very least, the sort of player Tony Allen is for Memphis now (with maybe a little better J). Yet, every day, trade rumors swirl around him. The sad part of it is that this, more than likely, will not be for a young player. It will be for some veteran closer to the end than the beginning, because James Dolan demands someone he can put on radio ads and on the media guide. Keep Iman Shumpert. Make him part of the solution. Do not blame him for your other problems.

Speaking of those….

Step 2: Mike Woodson needs to accept that the Iso-Melo offense does not work, and go to something approaching the drive-and-kick offense that worked so well for them a year ago.

Photo Credit: Bill Baptist\Getty Images

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Can he adapt or is he overmatched?

Any Atlanta Hawks fan can tell you Mike Woodson’s good qualities. He was a good teacher of defensive principles, and seemed to be able to get through to Josh Smith. However, we can also tell you his bad qualities, and chief amongst them, right there at the top of the list in big bold letters, are two words: Iso Joe.

Maybe it was because Woodson never had a point guard worth a damn for those Hawks teams. Nonetheless, everyone knew what was coming. Joe Johnson’s usage rates during his years in Atlanta were always in the mid to high 20′s. He had the ball in his hands a lot.

The hypothesis was, at least for a while, that this was what he had to do with the talent he was given. The theory, which followed the hypothesis, was that, if he had a point guard who could run the show and keep the ball moving, we wouldn’t see as isolation-heavy an offense in his next step, wherever that might have been.

The truth? No. Mike Woodson is, for whatever reason, exactly the sort of coach Hawks fans knew him to be. Unimaginative and stubborn like a mule. Incapable of creating an offense that suits all the players on his team, instead of just the best one. The paradox of this is that one of the reasons why he was made the full-time coach after Mike D’Antoni was forced out is that he wasn’t stubborn, wasn’t going to inflexibly go with something that wasn’t working.

All of the things that Mike Woodson did last year to ameliorate the isolation basketball tendencies of his best player, whether playing two point guards on the floor together to ensure better ball movement or spreading the floor with an armada of 3-point shooters, are gone.

With the way that things are now, this team needs more work than we thought, and my last step to fix the Knicks is the hardest step.

Step 3: Seriously consider trading everyone you can, even Carmelo Anthony.

Photo Credit: Reuters

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Could he be saluting goodbye?

I would hope that by this point in the process, you have seen how I have come to my conclusions.

This team, as presently constituted and with its basketball IQ that is somewhere between a potato and a heat lamp, will have trouble winning very many games, so how to fix it is the question. The only acceptable answer hurts this year’s team. However, if you want to win, this is what you have to do: trade everyone.

A contender might need Raymond Felton, or JR Smith…enough to give you young players, draft picks, salary relief, or some combination of the three. Same thing with everyone else on this team…including Carmelo.

That is right. You have to consider trading him. If you can get an offer that gives you a chance to build a long-term championship contender, you do it. The way this is now, the way this team has been constructed and the way it plays, you are headed straight for the worst place any NBA team can be: the treadmill. Where you are not bad enough to get a transformative player, but not good enough to reasonably contend for a championship.

These are the ways to fix the Knicks. Some might be easy, some might be hard. However, it has to be done, because the longer it goes this way, the worse it is going to get. Moreover, make no mistake, if this does not happen, it is going to get worse.

16 Responses to “How to fix the broken New York Knicks”

  1. MODI says:

    Hey Okori, good to hear from you.

    Basically you are saying “blow up the team” and start from scratch. Not saying a terrible idea, but don’t know if that flies in NYC. While “the treadmill” is never good, when you have a guy like Melo, you keep him and try to add another star when Amare contact is up. Bottom line is that stars traded in their prime rarely get much back, and NYC doesn’t have a lot of draft picks to go the 5-year Sonics-OKC route and lose miserably with a happy fan base.

    I will keep Melo over Galo/Chandler, but agree that we can use Jordan Hill’s rebounding. But Hill wasn’t traded to get TMac, he was traded by Donnie Walsh along with a first round pick just for Houston to take Jared Jeffries contract so Knicks could sign TWO super stars in 2010. But it never happened. It was an awful trade just to clear space for one single year. The trade was awful, but media lauded it because they salivate over Donnie no matter how many Murphy-Dunleavy-Tinsley’s he signed to long-term contracts. But I will get on Walsh another day.

    Melo for his part has been playing hard. He is grabbing 10 boards a game and throwing his body around, but there is no one else. The main problem with the Knicks is that Tyson Chandler was THE ONLY big man who can provide boards and D and they have not a single back-up. This was a GM failure, not a coaching failure. Up until the playoffs, Woodson was the best coach in basketball last year. Id even take a warm body like Kwame Brown right now (can’t believe I wrote that). We are sorely undersized and no coach would win with this team.

    I understand the desire not to trade Shump (love that dude!), but he is our most tradable asset, and we have a guy named Tim Hardaway Jr. who can potentially step in. But we desperately need some size (Omer Asik?), and Shump is the guy who will help get it. Also, we have no draft pick this year, so losing wont help us there. I think you gotta make a trade for some size/rebounding.

    Melo lost all his help. He lost Chandler to injury. Partially lost Felton to poor conditioning, and JR is shooting an abysmal 33%. Only Bargnani could score right now. This is the team we have. I expect it to get better when folks get healthy, but that might be another month.

  2. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @MODI: It’s good to be back.

    The reason why we don’t know if it works is that no one has ever tried it. The Knicks never rebuilt even when they should have (the Stephon Marbury trade for one.) Eventually, they’re going to have to. The model for most NBA teams should be the Pacers and the Bulls. They’ve been playoff contenders for a few years now, but can still put in young players who can contribute and are key cogs to contenders. I think that’s what the Knicks have missed, and will continue to mix, by chasing free agents.

    Re trading Shump to Houston for Asik: What exactly would Houston want with him? James Harden blocks him at 2-guard, and he’s not good enough of an outside shooter for anything else. Your better argument is Atlanta for Horford, Utah for Kanter, or something like that.

  3. MODI says:

    Shump would have to be part of 3-way trade.

    In the NBA, there really is no model except hope to get a top-3 player and building around. Bulls had 7 years of top-7 picks and blew most of them, and then were lucky to get a ball with Derrick Roses name on it, and are now unlucky.

    As far as the Pacers go, they were in the EXACT position the Knicks were in through 2011 with Dunleavy-Troy Murphy-Tinsley all with big contract. but they let them die out and Walsh traded everybody for nothing to get under cap one year earlier to go for Lebron but get Amare.

    I don’t think that Pacers are really that replicable. They simply drafted really well recently with Hibbert at 17, Paul George at 10, Kawhi Leonard at 15 (traded for Hill), and even Lance Stephenson at 40. It is very rare to get such talent without a pick in single digits or a lucky ping-pong ball. Had they missed on a couple of those picks, they would be in trouble.

    If Hibbert got injured like Chandler, Hill came out of shape like Felton, and George coming off injury like JR, Pacers would be struggling too.

    While George is best player, the key to Pacers is Hibbert because he is the dude Miami has no answer for. There is only one single thing that Lebron can’t do — guard centers. And if you are going to beat the Heat, you gotta be big. No one will out-perimeter them

  4. Okori Wadsworth says:

    We’ve had this argument before, you and I, and I think it’s never truer than right now: The way the Knicks do things will eventually become untenable, if it hasn’t already. They lost out on the rights to a potential lottery pick in a draft more stacked than Kate Upton. Denver, who is in need of a franchise player, will get one regardless of what happens if this team doesn’t improve and fast.

    The big question is this: was last year the peak? Was this as good as many players on the team would get? You have to ask that, if you’re the Knicks. It’s a hard question to ask but you have to do it.

  5. Michelle says:

    Just scrap it and start over :)

  6. mapoui says:

    no scrap and start over. thats too sane and smart for New York

    the knicks will trade Carmello for Blake…

    Doc will get what he wants and Dolan will get his star

  7. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @Mapoui: I don’t know how exactly that helps either team.

  8. mapoui says:

    it probably does not Okori.

    yet with Carmelo over Griffin you get greater scoring and a bit more defence for the Clips. Carmelo is a better player than Griffin

    the Clips get tougher scoring come play-off time from Carmelo

    No defence is going to shut Carmelo down as Griffin has been in the play-offs so far

    It was just an idea that hit me as I read the tread, and Michelle’s comment..and what’s going on right now….Doc’s and Clips troubles and Dolan’s love for Broadway types..along with Carmelo’s gripes in New York

    Dolan should be quite happy to have Griffin..and I doubt Doc would mind losing him for Carmelo.

    Dolan seems quite unconcerned about building from scratch. a trade like this is well within the Knick profile

  9. mapoui says:

    Carmelo would be of much advantage to the Clippers in my way of thinking..not so much Blake in New York

    but this thread is about fixing the Knicks and my opinion on that question is that the Knicks cant be fixed…and wont be fixed any time soon

    Knick Fans will have to love disarray… or find another team to support

  10. Okori Wadsworth says:

    Blake is not exactly a great defensive player, and Carmelo’s about the same. Also, you CANNOT run plays for Blake in crunch time because of his poor free throw shooting. It helps no one, the Knicks more so than the Clippers.

  11. mapoui says:

    well that’s what I said..Carmelo would help the Clippers more than Griffin the Knicks.

    but Carmelo threatens getting out, and Griffin has star power…a bright lights type who should be attractive to Dolan.

    after all Bargnani is in New York and he does have some Star
    Italian power. I cant think of any other reason why he is there.

    the idea just ran across my mind at the time man. it just seemed like something that Dolan would do. or it would be attractive to him.

    no thing..just a thought

  12. Okori Wadsworth says:

    I understand, mapoui.

    It’s just…… it’s a sports talk radio trade. The bigger question is this: Who are the trade partners for the Knicks?

  13. Mapoui says:

    YES! Talk Radio indeed.

    I was glancing around the basketball net this morning and a lot of people have been talking about that ‘trade’

    but there are no partners to it…its just talk

  14. Okori Wadsworth says:

    Shumpert might end up in Atlanta for Horford or Millsap, which wouldn’t be the worst idea.

  15. Okori Wadsworth says:

    And of course, the Knicks are going to trade Shumpert for Kyle Lowry and give up another 1st round draft pick. Because everyone associated with that godforsaken franchise are idiots.

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